The launch of the SES New Skies NSS-8 communications satellite by Sea Launch Company, LLC was brought to a rather abrupt and very fiery end this evening, when the Zenit 3SL launch vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure almost as soon as the main engine was lit.
It proved to be third time unlucky as the twice-postponed launch was given the final go ahead at approximately 23:22 GMT. The rocket appeared to topple slightly and then collapse only a few seconds after ignition, and then exploded in a massive fireball, completely engulfing the Odyssey Launch Platform.
The Sea Launch website reports that all personnel at the launch site are safe and accounted for.
Please visit the forum for more pictures and a video of the disaster.
Another sad day for the satellite industry.