updated 10/8/2005 2:10:29 PM ET 2005-10-08T18:10:29

A European Space Agency satellite has broken up in flight and its remnants have crashed into the ocean, a Russian space agency official said Saturday.

"The remnants of the satellite have fallen into the northern Arctic Sea," Vyacheslav Davydenko, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Space Agency, told The Associated Press. "The booster unit did not switch on and it resulted in the failure of the satellite to reach orbit," he said. Engineers lost contact with the Russian rocket carrying the ESA's CryoSat satellite some two hours after it blasted off from Russia's northern Plesetsk launch facility.

Vikor Remichevsky, deputy director of the Russian Federal Space Agency, was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency, that there had been "a failure of the navigation system."
  
The satellite was launched aboard a converted intercontinental ballistic missile at about 7:02 p.m. (1502GMT).
  
The satellite was slated to spend three years surveying polar ice, using radar altimeters to assess the miles-thick ice sheets that cover Greenland and the Antarctic land mass and the comparatively thin sea ice in the polar regions.

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