Friday, December 16, 2011

Phobos-Grunt a failure, 12.16.11

Russian aerospace company NPO Lavochkin is expected to make the announcement soon that Phobos-Grunt, an unmanned probe mission to Mars, has failed. The probe launched early last month and its last booster rocket failed to go off, leaving the probe stuck in Earth orbit with a full tank of fuel.

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The probe’s intended destination was the red planet’s moon Phobos. Its mission was to collect rock and soil samples.

The probe launched early on November 8 of this year. All seemed to be well as it reached Earth orbit, but the last booster rocket failed to fire, which would have propelled the probe out of orbit and on track towards Phobos. Repeated contact attempts have been made to make the last booster rocket fire, but it failed to respond. In its current state, the probe is too dangerous to approach with another vessel to repair it, so the mission is a bust.

Russian officials claim the probe should not pose a threat to humans when it descends to Earth, and say most of it should burn up as it falls.

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