Russia To Try Again For Phobos-Grunt?


Russia says “eish 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 Russia’s 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.

Read more about the tragic end of the Phobos-Grunt mission here.

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.

(News via RIA Novosti)

*Phonetic pronunciation for “one more time.” Thanks to my friend Dima for the Russian lesson!

13 Replies to “Russia To Try Again For Phobos-Grunt?”

  1. OMG. How many times does Russia have to attempt to send a spacecraft to Phobos? “Take-two”? More like “Take-four”. Does anyone remember the other two failed Russian missions: Phobos 1 and 2?

    Give it a rest Roscosmos. It is clearly not meant to be.

    1. Somebody has to take up the slack, there is still HUGE interest in such missions, and getting to phobos could answer a few questions about phobos and demios, so what’s the problem? Jealous Russia still has vision?

      1. No. Frustrated they continually fail. My entire thesis was on how to control a spacecraft in this 3-body system. I’m sure you can understand my frustration when, for the 3rd time, I do not see any results. Vision? Time will tell. I’d like to see Popovkin ask Putin for another 160 million US to “eish odin ras”.

    2. So there is so sort of supernatural karma that’s preventing Russia from failing to achieve three or four of the most complex long distance space missions ever attempted is a row? What, did they sacrifice to the wrong gods or something?

      1. JAXA did it in one shot with Hayabusa. There is no excuse for a triple failure. Yes, I am commenting on supernatural karma and sacrifice to the space gods. Or maybe it’s just the counterfeit CPUs they used. Seriously? Wow…what a waste of time, money, resources, and hope. Somebody in that engineering department should be sacrificed.

  2. Maybe they should try just shooting rockets a few times, and if the rockets go where they’re supposed to two out of three times, then put the scientific instruments on them.

  3. Not a bad idea actually, as long as they don’t go for the old soviet practice of trying to make up for a failed mission by making its replacement even more ambitious

    1. Indeed. I heard the add ons made for a launcher switch, which modified the original package et cetera.

  4. Missions to Mars used to have high failure rates. US managed to turn that around, ESA and Soviet has still some things to (im)prove.

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