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Russian Spacecraft Failed to Reach Phobos
11.11.2011 15:16
Russian Spacecraft Failed to Reach Phobos

On Wednesday Russia launched a robotic spacecraft to one of Mars moons, Phobos, but it failed to reach a flying orbit after separation from the launch vehicle.

      The spacecraft was lifted off from the Baikonur space center at 00.16 a.m. Moscow time. After the separation from the Zenit-2 launch vehicle it was supposed to generate two impulses in order to direct the spacecraft into an interplanetary trajectory. But, unfortunately, it failed to do that and remained in a low transitory orbit.

      At first engineers of Roscosmos space agency couldn't even detect the spacecraft, as the connection was lost. Now, according to Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Roscosmos, the spacecraft’s orbit is known and the connection is normal, fuel tanks are ready and full. You can see its orbit moving here.

      “The engine installation did not function properly: it gave neither the first, nor the second impulse. This means that (the station) did not manage to position itself relative to the stars,” he said (Russia Today).

      The technicians had three days to reboot the program, start the on-board engine and put the probe on the designated trajectory before the batteries run out.

      At the time of this writing, Roscosmos still hasn't succeed in restarting the probe. Though, the spaceship has opened its solar panels and now Roscosmos has time till November 21 to "revive" and guide it to Phobos. After November 21, the planet's arrangement will become unfit for interplanetary flights. If the situation doesn't change, it will drop down on November 26.

      The "Phobos-Soil" mission was intended to bring back soil samples from Phobos in 2014 to pave the way for the exploration of the Red Planet. The potential loss of th probe is an another serious blow to Russian space exploration program.  


      

Sources: Lenta.ru Russia Today RIA Novosti Image: dp.ru

      Related News: Russia Begins Interplanetary Missions after 20-years Break (26.09.2011) 


Author: Julia Alieva

Tags: cosmos Phobos Soil Russian cosmonautics Russian science Roscosmos 

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