Phobos-Grunt, which took about five years to build and cost $160 million at current exchange rates, which faced numerous problems at the time of its launch, is heading towards earth inspite of Msrs for which it was originally intended. Russian officials have claimed that cause of its loss was an unidentified attack from some antisatellite weapon, the director of Russia’s space agency said in an interview published Tuesday. Though the attackers were not named yet he claimed that mission was hit while it was away from the vision of Russia. It was originally destined to collect soil sample from Mars on a two and half years journey.
When the 13-ton Phobos-Grunt breaks up in the atmosphere, debris could potentially fall anywhere along a vast stretch of the Earth’s surface that includes the cities of New York, London and Tokyo which means embarrassment is on its way for for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, which has presided over a series of rocket and satellite failures this year. NASA acknowledged that it was tracking the space probe and it help Russian Space Agency in its efforts to recover lost chain of connection with Phobos and that it is likely to fall in the next week. “Predictions of re-entry date, time and location can change significantly due to many changing factors, such as solar weather and orientation of the spacecraft. These predictions become more accurate as the event approaches.”
Mr. Popovkin’s remarks to the newspaper Izvestia were the first high-level suggestion of nefarious interference. A retired commander of Russia’s missile warning system had speculated in November that strong radar signals from installations in Alaska might have damaged the spacecraft “We don’t want to accuse anybody, but there are very powerful devices that can influence spacecraft now. The possibility they were used cannot be ruled out.” He also added that “If we had not sent it to Mars in 2011, we would have had to throw it away.”
The interview came at a time of rising anti-Americanism in Russian politics, and may have been intended mostly for a domestic audience. Russian officials often drop hints of foreign meddling, for example in stirring the recent street protests in Moscow; such comments are usually taken to mean the United States.
Mr. Popovkin did not directly implicate the United States in the interview. But he said “the frequent failure of our space launches, which occur at a time when they are flying over the part of Earth not visible from Russia, where we do not see the spacecraft and do not receive telemetric information, are not clear to us,” an apparent reference to the Americas.