Hard Landing

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HOUSTON: Russia's space program was dealt another blow as a Zenit-2 booster rocket carrying a military satellite exploded and crashed after liftoff from Kazakstan. The explosion was caused by an emergency shutdown of the rocket's first stage engines 48 seconds after launch, Russian Space Agency officials said. No injuries were reported. It was the twenty-eighth launch and seventh failure of a Zenit-2 since 1985. For Russia, the disaster is the latest in a string of setbacks, which have included fires on-board Mir and delays in the construction of critical components for the international space station. But TIME's Jeffrey Kluger reports that such difficulties are to be expected from an aging and underfunded space program. "The lack of funding has led to a weaker infrastructure in which the Mir used to be the crown jewel. Now it's the only stone left."