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Russian space rocket launch aborted

The first launch of Russia's new space rocket after two decades of development has been aborted moments before blast-off as president Vladimir Putin watched on a live feed.

The botched attempt to launch the Angara booster rocket was the latest mishap to dog Russia's troubled space industries, whose Soviet-era glory has faded in a series of launch failures.

Angara is being built to replace the Soyuz, a workhorse of the Soviet and then Russian space programme, which was designed more than four decades ago.

Space officials said an automatic safety system aborted the rocket's blast-off from the Plesetsk launch pad in north-western Russia for an unspecified reason.

Mr Putin ordered defence minister Sergei Shoigu to investigate and report the cause.

The launch was tentatively rescheduled for Saturday.

Last month, the launch of Russia's Proton-M booster also ended in failure, and the same type of rocket also suffered launch failure last July, leading to the loss of three navigation satellites.

The July mishap was tracked to a flaw in the assembly line process involving a poorly qualified worker.

Observers say post-Soviet Russia's space programme has been hampered by a brain drain and a steady erosion of engineering and quality standards.

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