It's Over: Phobos-Grunt Reenters into Pacific Ocean

It's Over: Phobos-Grunt Reenters into Pacific Ocean

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quotes a Russian defense official as saying Phobos-Grunt reentered into the Pacific Ocean at 21:45 Moscow Time (12:45 Eastern Standard Time) today.

The news agency quotes Russian defense ministry official Alexei Zolotukhin as saying that the spacecraft fell 1,250 kilometers west of Wellington Island in the Pacific. 

Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, had predicted it would fall into the Atlantic.  Predicting when and where spacecraft reentries will occur is an inexact science.

Phobos-Grunt (Phobos-soil) was intended to return to Earth a sample of the Martian moon Phobos and deploy a small Chinese spacecraft, Yinghuo-1, into Mars orbit.  It also carried a small experiment called LIFE from The Planetary Society.   It was successfully launched into Earth orbit on November 8, 2011 (EST), but its Fregat upper stage failed to fire to send it on to Mars.  The reasons for the failure remain unknown.  A Russian panel is investigating the failure and is expected to report at the end of this month.

Correction:  An earlier version of this article misstated the reentry time cited by the Russian official as 21:55 instead of 21:45 Moscow Time (12:55 instead of 12:45 EST).

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