Russian space agencies have lost contact with a European Space Agency satellite shortly after launch. The Cryosat satellite was launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia but failed to establish communication at the scheduled time, a Russian news agency reported. A source involved in the mission was quoted as saying the fate of craft would be known in the coming hours.
Cryosat was designed to measure how fast the polar ice caps are melting. It was launched on board a Rokot launcher, which is a converted inter-continental ballistic missile. The question of whether global climate change is causing the polar ice caps to shrink is one of the most intensely debated environmental issues. ESA said CryoSat could provide a definitive answer. Its loss will be a massive blow to the space agency.