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Failed Russian rocket in sea crash

A rocket carrying three communications satellites has fallen into the Pacific Ocean after failing to reach orbit, in the latest setback to Russia's attempts to develop a system to rival the US Global Positioning System.

State news agency RIA Novosti cited an unidentified aerospace industry source as saying the rocket and satellites went into the sea about 900 miles north-west of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Russian space agency Roscosmos declined to comment.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael de Nyse in Hawaii said his agency knew about the fallen satellites but was not responding to the scene.

The Proton rocket blasted off on Sunday from the Russian launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It was carrying three satellites for Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System, or Glonass.

The system - which seeks to be the equivalent of the US Global Positioning System, or GPS - was developed during the Soviet era and serves both military and civilian purposes.

The government had hoped to make Glonass fully operational by the beginning of 2008, but it was delayed by equipment flaws and other technical problems.

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