December 26th, 2011

Russia’s lost Phobos-Grunt to fall in Afghanistan – U.S. military RIA Novosti

Russia’s Phobos-Grunt spacecraft bound for Mars and stuck in an orbit around Earth will fall in southwestern Afghanistan on January 14, the U.S. Strategic Command said on Monday.
Phobos-Grunt, Russia’s most ambitious planetary mission in decades, was launched on November 9 but it was lost due to propulsion failure and is expected to fall back to Earth next month.

December 17th, 2011

Catastrophe looms as toxic 13-tonne Mars probe falls to Earth The Independent

The heaviest interplanetary spacecraft ever launched is about to become one of the most dangerous man-made objects to fall from space when it crashes to the ground early in the new year.
The Russian Phobos-Ground probe was destined to land on a moon of Mars but problems soon after launch in November meant that it was stuck in an unstable, low-Earth orbit.
Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, said yesterday that the lorry-sized probe weighing 13.2 tonnes and laden with 11 tonnes of toxic rocket fuel and 10kg of radioactive cobalt-57 will fall to Earth between 6 and 19 January.

November 30th, 2011

Skywatcher snaps photos of stranded Russian Mars probe MSNBC

A skywatcher has photographed a troubled Russian Mars probe that remains stuck in Earth orbit three weeks after its launch.
Astrophotographer and veteran satellite spotter Ralf Vandebergh tracked Russia’s Phobos-Grunt spacecraft as it passed over the southern Netherlands on Tuesday. Using a 10-inch (25-centimeter) telescope and a video camera, he snapped a series of images at a range of about 170 miles (274 kilometers).

November 11th, 2011

Russia Running Out Of Time, As Mars Mission Seems Destined To Fail npr

Russians are feeling pretty gloomy after spending days trying to contact a spacecraft aimlessly orbiting Earth. The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft was destined for one of Mars’ moons. As we reported earlier this week, it was supposed to scoop up some rocks and return home with its specimens, but one of its boosters failed to ignite and now its stuck.
RIA Novosti, Russia’s official international news outlet, said scientists have been trying to reconnect with the spacecraft to no avail.
“The spacecraft repeatedly passed over the Baikonur station and other Russian and foreign points of space communications during the night. There is no news yet,” RIA Novosti reports a a Russian space program spokesman said.

November 9th, 2011

Russian mission to Martian moon stuck in Earth orbit MSNBC

Russia’s bid for its first interplanetary mission in 15 years went awry on Wednesday when an unmanned spacecraft failed to take the proper course toward Mars after its launch, space officials said.
Russian space agency chief Vladimir Popovkin said an engine failed to fire on the Phobos-Grunt probe after it reached Earth orbit, Interfax reported. The problem could doom the mission to bring back a soil sample from the Martian moon Phobos.

November 8th, 2011

Russian Mars mission halted by glitch in low Earth orbit Spaceflight Now

Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission, an audacious effort to retrieve samples from a Martian moon, is stranded in low Earth orbit following a successful liftoff Tuesday from Kazakhstan, according to Russian reports. Two rocket burns were supposed to propel the massive probe on a course toward Mars late Tuesday, but indications are the engine firings did not occur, according to Vladimir Popovkin, head of the Russian space agency.
The revelation came after a successful blastoff on top of a Zenit 2FG rocket at 2016 GMT (3:16 p.m. EST). Phobos-Grunt and an attached rocket pack separated from the booster about 11 minutes later.
Radar trackers did not detect Phobos-Grunt in the expected orbit after it was supposed to fire engines nearly three hours after liftoff. The burn was timed to occur over South America and out of range of Russian ground stations, which are limited in coverage over Europe and Asia.

November 8th, 2011

Russian spacecraft on its way to Phobos DLR

On 8 November at 21:16 CET (02:16 on 9 November, local time) the Russian Phobos-Grunt (Phobos Soil) spacecraft began its journey to Mars on board a Zenit-2 rocket that lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft is expected to land on the Martian moon Phobos in February 2013, where it will collect samples of the surface and return these to Earth in a capsule in August 2014. Phobos-Grunt is the first Russian spacecraft to be launched beyond Earth’s orbit since 1996.