Russia Mars probe considered lost: report

The probe was launched earlier this week in what Moscow had hoped would be a triumphant return to Mars exploration
A Zenit-2SB rocket, carrying the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, seen here at a launch pad of the Russian leased Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome early on November 9, just before it's blast off toward Mars. Efforts to resume contact with the spacecraft stuck in Earth orbit after launch have failed and the probe must be considered lost, Interfax news agency reported Saturday.

Efforts to resume contact with a Russian space mission to Mars stuck in Earth orbit after launch have failed and the probe must be considered lost, Interfax news agency reported Saturday.

"All attempts to obtain telemetric information from the Phobos-Grunt probe and activate its command system have failed. The probe must be considered lost," Interfax quoted a source in the Russian space sector as saying.

The source said Russia's space agency would announce the failure of the mission in the next few days.

The space agency had said earlier scientists had a window of only a few days to reprogramme the probe in a bid to send it on its route to Mars. If this does not happen, Phobos-Grunt would fall back to Earth early next month.

The mission went awry after launch Wednesday when the five-billion-ruble ($165 million) probe's engine failed to fire, leaving it orbiting the Earth rather than starting its journey towards the red planet.

The probe had the unprecedented mission to land on the Martian moon Phobos and bring a sample of its rock back to Earth, as well as launch a Chinese Mars satellite.

The mishap caps an inglorious list for Russia's space programme in the 50th anniversary year of Yuri Gagarin's first flight into space.

Three plunged into the sea after a failed launch in December and Russia has since lost new military and upon launch.

The accident also comes just days before Russia is due to resume manned space flights to the that ground to a halt in August with the crash of a cargo craft.

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(c) 2011 AFP

Citation: Russia Mars probe considered lost: report (2011, November 12) retrieved 17 October 2019 from
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Nov 12, 2011
Yeah, and maybe bring Deja Thoris with him.

Nov 12, 2011
On board the probe is 8.3 metric tonnes of highly toxic and hypergolic mixture of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. This mixture will be in frozen state, so it could survive the fall of probe and to reach the Earth surface, where it will explode. This is nearly 20 times the amount that was on board the American spy satellite USA-193, which was shot down before reentry by the U.S. in February 2008.

Fobos-Grunt station carries small amount of radioactive materials too. Radioactive sources are serving for the MIMOS II Mosbauer spectrometer designed for identifying iron and its quantity in the Phobos soil. The half-decay period for Cobalt-57 is around nine months.

An anonymous (expert) source indicated this may force reform in the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. Also, "a number of positions of responsible persons" could face jail time.

Nov 12, 2011
I am always skeptical when I hear of expensive probes lost, as they could have actually continued on clandestine missions. Easy enough to deorbit another satellite as cover, while the real one is headed out to divert some asteroid or something.

Russians have lost 14 of 16 mars probes, many ideally suited for asteroid missions. They even lost an (unmanned?) lunar capsule which could actually have sent cosmonauts on a suicide mission to save the mother planet.

Nov 12, 2011
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Nov 14, 2011
Check out Project Pegasus, it could explain the loss..

Nov 14, 2011
Check out Project Pegasus, it could explain the loss..
Hmmm nice picture of the tardis.

Hint - DARPA did not invent the tardis :P

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