A Russian Dnepr rocket carrying satellites crashed shortly after takeoff late Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russian media reported.
RIA Novosti said the first and second stages of the rocket failed to separate correctly after 86 seconds of flight, causing the Dnepr — a converted intercontinental ballistic missile — to crash.
"No harm was caused to the villages in the surrounding areas," Yuri Nosenko, deputy head of Russia's space agency, told reporters according to Interfax news agency.
The agencies said the rocket was carrying the Belka, a monitoring satellite that would have been the ex-Soviet republic of Belarus' first human-made object in space, along with 17 other satellites.
Russian and Belarussian media reported earlier that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko had traveled to Baikonur, which is in the middle of Kazakhstan's steppes and was the launch pad for the Soviet space program's most spectacular successes, especially to witness the launch.
They did not report his reaction to the crash.