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In contrast to US & ESA programs, Russians do not employ true RSO destruct system. If rocket loses control, ground officers can send manual shut down command but they never destroy rocket in air to reduce risks on people and assets. Instead they let that fully loaded rocket impact the ground.

Why Russian doctrine in this case differs from US & ESA? Is this a form of carelessness or there is another explanation besides launching rockets in an uninhabited areas?

Kourou launch site is also in remote and unpopulated area but ESA still employs RSO destruction.

From many videos which could be found on internet, Proton M rocket failure in July 2th 2013 caused huge explosion similar to small nuclear bomb and it's shock wave caused shattering of windows in nearest town. Impact of rocket caused rapid, confined and efficient mixing of hypergolic fuels and therefore strong detonation. I think, that if rocket was destroyed in air on time, it would cause very fast burning - fireball, but not detonation. Also it would cause less ground contamination, because majority of fuel would burn in air, instead of that detonation dispersed unburnt toxic fuel all around the impact site.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Kourou launch site is also in remote and unpopulated area " are you sure? $\endgroup$ – JCRM Mar 8 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ French Guiana has very low population density - 3.6/km2 and Kourou region is covered with dense equatorial forests. Also it's a coastal launch site. esa.int/Enabling_Support/Space_Transportation/… $\endgroup$ – WOW 6EQUJ5 Mar 8 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ Kourou itself is a town of 25000+ people than, with only minor guidance errors, can be directly overflown by launches. $\endgroup$ – Bob Jacobsen Mar 8 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ Than you can say the same for Baikonur which is a town of 39000+ people and at approximately the same distance to space port as Kourou is. Tyuratam town is even closer. Also there are two airports near the Baikonur spaceport, Yubileyniy and Krayniy airports. Now days that region has a lot of building campuses which are associated to space port and more than 70 launching pads. Therefore a lot of ground assets which could be damaged. $\endgroup$ – WOW 6EQUJ5 Mar 8 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ For comparison, from the starting table of Soyuz to Baikonur - 30 kilometers. The distance from the launching tables of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome to the city of Mirny (30000) is 20 kilometers. The distance from the launching sites at Cape Canaveral to Titusville (43000 people) is 20 kilometers. The distance to Orlando (1.5 million) is 70 kilometers. The Chinese spaceport Jiuquan is located 200 kilometers from the metropolis of the same name (1.5 million) and 6 kilometers from a small town. Sichan Chinese spaceport - 45 kilometers from Sichan city (130000). $\endgroup$ – A. Rumlin Mar 9 at 6:52

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