Wednesday 17 January 2018

Last-ditch effort to save interplanetary mission

Alissa de Carbonnel in Moscow

Russia was last night trying to salvage a spacecraft bound for a moon of Mars that is stranded in the Earth's orbit, with just days left before the window closes on its first interplanetary mission in 15 years.

So far Russian controllers have failed to establish contact with the $163m (€119.8m), unmanned probe, leaving little hope of recovering the ambitious mission that was to reassert Russia's place at the front lines of space exploration.

Following the launch from Russia's Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan early on Wednesday, the Phobos-Grunt probe is stuck in a dangerously low orbit, creating a drag that could eventually send it crashing back to Earth.

Russia's space agency said it had at least three days to try to fix the problem and steer the craft on to its correct path, and will make another attempt when it passes over Baikonur later today, a spokesman said.

Irish Independent

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