Russia Blaming U.S. Radar For Phobos-Grunt Failure
January 17, 2012

Russia Blaming U.S. Radar For Phobos-Grunt Failure

Russia said on Tuesday that radiation from U.S. radar is most likely to blame for causing the Phobos-Grunt probe to fail its mission to Mars.

The RIA-Novosti news agency said that Yury Koptev, head of the scientific committee of state technology company Russian Technology, confirmed the theory.

"To test (the theory), an equipment block similar to the one on Phobos-Grunt will be exposed to radiation from the possible unintentional exposure to American radars," Koptev, a former head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, told the news agency.

Roscosmos is trying to determine what happened to the probe when it launched last November, only to find itself re-entering the Earth's atmosphere this past Sunday over the Pacific Ocean.

The Russian space agency mentioned the possibility of foreign interference last week when agency chief Vladimir Popovkin asked why its failures often occur when crafts were over the western hemisphere.

"I do not want to blame anyone, but today there are some very powerful countermeasures that can be used against spacecraft whose use we cannot exclude," he told the Izvestia daily on January 10.

The Mars mission was a higher-profile mishap than other failures in the past year, costing $165 million and carrying Chinese satellite equipment as well.

A Progress supply ship sent off by Roscomos that was bound for the International Space Station crashed into Siberia last year.  Also, Russia lost three navigation satellites, an advanced military satellite and a telecommunications satellite in the past year.

Preliminary results of the new investigation will be made on January 20, and official results will be given January 26.

Russia has failed in all 17 of its attempts to study Mars close-up since 1960.  Its most recent failure before the November accident took place in 1996, when it lost its Mars-96 orbiter during launch.


Image Caption: A Zenit rocket with Phobos-Grunt is being erected onto the launch pad on November 6.


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