Russia excitedly prepared for the first flight of the Angara rocket, a $3 billion new-generation shuttle 20 years in the making, on Friday.
President Vladimir Putin awaited the launch sitting alone, Bond villain-style, at the head of a long table in a spacious room in the Kremlin.
But then, disaster struck — the rocket's own safety system aborted the takeoff.
Russia's technical elite looked on in horror.
A visibly crestfallen Putin ordered them to find out the reason for the failed launch in one hour.
"I'm sorry, Vladimir, I'm afraid I can't do that."
Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71
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