Posts Tagged ‘Mars missions’

Russian Phobos-Grunt mission to Mars and Phobos blasts off today

November 8, 2011

Much Russian news just now from the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic going live today to an ambitious and critical Mars mission which will launch late today (November 8th).

Russia’s last interplanetary launch of a probe to Mars in 1996  failed at launch. Prior to that in missions to the larger of Mars’ 2 moons, Phobos 1 was launched on July 7, 1988 and Phobos 2 on July 12, 1988. Communication with Phobos 1 was lost in September 1988. Phobos 2 operated normally till it was within 50m of the surface of Phobos and again communication was lost in March 1989.

In the meantime the US Mars Rover has operated on Mars for thousands of hours, Chinese and Indian probes have reached the moon and a Japanese probe has brought back some minute quantities of matter from an asteroid. The Russians have been short of financing and are now trying to regain the pre-eminence they once had. To have the Chinese planting flags on the moon in 3 or 4 years would be unbearable.

Russian missions to Mars have never yet been completely successful and the launch on November 8th as part of the Phobos-Grunt (Фобос-Грунт meaning Phobos -soil) project is carrying a great deal of Russian prestige and – more importantly – the future of the Russian space program.

(more…)

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