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Russia to Test if US Radar Caused Failed Space Probe
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (VOA) Jan 18, 2012


The failure of the $165-million mission, which was designed to collect soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos, is among a series of recent setbacks for Russia's space program five decades after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's pioneering space flight.

Russia says the failure of its space probe that was intended to travel to a moon of Mars could have been caused by radiation from U.S. radars.

Space official Yuri Koptev said Tuesday he will head a government commission that will test whether the Phobos-Grunt probe was affected by U.S. radars. He says an experiment will be done where a model Phobos is subjected to radiation similar to that from U.S. radars.

The Russian daily Kommersant Tuesday cited unnamed experts as saying there is a possibility that the probe entered an area covered by the radar, which could have impacted its electronics system.

The head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, said last week that foreign interference may be behind the recent failures of Russian spacecraft.

Debris from the unmanned 13.2-ton Phobos-Grunt probe fell Sunday into the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of Chile after it had been stranded in Earth's orbit for two months.

The failure of the $165-million mission, which was designed to collect soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos, is among a series of recent setbacks for Russia's space program five decades after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's pioneering space flight.

Last August, an unmanned supply ship bound for the International Space Station crashed in Siberia.

Russia is the only nation transporting crew members to and from the space station since the United States retired its space shuttle program last July.

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