India's second attempted rocket mission this year failed on Saturday when one carrying a satellite exploded just after liftoff.

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A satellite sent by the Indian Space Research Organization explodes in mid-air shortly after its launch in Sriharikota, India, on Saturday. ((Associated Press))

The rocket lost its control commands due to an error 47 seconds after liftoff from the Sriharikota space centre in Andhra Pradesh state, resulting in a change in the angle of flight, explained K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization.

"That caused a higher stress breaking up the vehicle," he told reporters.

The rocket had been carrying a GSAT-5P communication satellite into clear skies before it disintegrated.

Television images showed smoke billowing from the rocket before it burst into an orange glow about a minute after liftoff.

Nine months earlier, in April, a similar rocket launch was also unsuccessful, plunging into the Bay of Bengal.

In that mission, the ISRO blamed thermal stresses and excessive pressure on rupturing the casing to a turbine as well as causing the rotor to seize.

Saturday's explosion was a big blow to India's space program, which is planning its first manned space flight in 2016.

Last year, scientists abandoned an Indian satellite launched in 2008 to orbit the moon, after its communication links stopped working.

India is the fifth country after the U.S., Russia, China and France to enter the commercial satellite launch market.

The country has sent home-made satellites into space since 1994, with nine consecutive space flights succeeding in the past.

With files from The Associated Press