I think someone forgot to tell Russia that it’s no longer 1985. The Cold War is over, guys. We aren’t causing any ruckus anymore.
According to the Associated Press, an unmanned Russian spacecraft, the Phobos-ground probe, was launched into the atmosphere recently on a mission to Phobos, one of Mars’ moons, in order to retrieve material from the surface of the planetary body that would not only help explain its origin, but also help explain the origin of our own solar system. Unfortunately for them things didn’t go quite as planned.
When the unit was orbiting Earth, “unexplained” malfunctions occurred which Russia was quick to blame on foreign interference rather than just their admittedly shoddy equipment. An angry Roscosmos chief, Vladimir Popovkin, seems to think espionage is involved, though he doesn’t specifically name the US as the perpetrator. Another Russian official hints that the probe may have been affected by a powerful magnetic pulse originating at a US base in Alaska.
Sadly for this ambitious mission it means it’s all over. The probe is expected to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere around January 15th (so where your hard hats that day) and they will have to start over from scratch. The Russian space program failed at its last attempt to breach Earth orbit back in 1996 when another Mars probe crashed on lift off.
Pointed fingers aside, this is a sad loss for all space programs as the mission may have helped open our eyes to more mysteries of the universe. Alas, Russians can’t seem to get it right and the US program’s budget keeps getting trimmed, and the sad truth is actual humans may never make it to Mars. Keep trying, guys!