Russia to try again for Phobos-Grunt?
Russia says "eisho odin ras"* for its Mars moon lander mission, according to Roscomos chief Vladimir Popovkin.
If the European Space Agency does not include Russia in its ExoMars program, a two-mission plan to explore Mars via orbiter and lander and then with twin rovers (slated to launch in 2016 and 2018, respectively), Roscosmos will try for a take-two on their failed Phobos-Grunt mission.
We are holding consultations with the ESA about Russias participation in the ExoMars project if no deal is reached, we will repeat the attempt, said Popovkin on Tuesday.
Phobos-Grunt, an ambitious mission to land on the larger of Mars two moons, collect samples and return them to Earth, launched successfully on November 9, 2011. It became caught in low-Earth orbit shortly afterwards, its upper-stage engines having failed to ignite.
After many attempts to communicate with the stranded spacecraft, Phobos-Grunt re-entered the atmosphere and impacted on January 15. Best estimates place the impact site in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern Chile.
The failed mission also included a Chinese orbiter and a life experiment from The Planetary Society.
Russia is offering ESA the use of a Proton launch vehicle for inclusion into the ExoMars mission, now that the U.S. has canceled its joint participation and Atlas carrier. Roscomos and ESA are scheduled to discuss the potential partnership in February.
*Phonetic pronunciation for one more time. Thanks to my friend Dima for the Russian lesson!