Hey, hey guys. Know what this is? This is Phobos-Grunt, Russia’s latest space-failure. I was hoping they’d get it this time, I really was. Russia, I wanted to believe so hard that you’d finally get it. That you’d finally have a decent time at Mars. They were gonna do it big. They were going to send the first landing probe to a moon while dropping China’s orbiter off at Mars along the way. This probe was going to collect a bit of Phobos’ sand (dirt? Do we even call it that?) and return it to Earth. It was really an exciting prospect!
Well, that was the plan like three weeks ago anyway. Early-mid November they launched the probe and immediately everything went horribly wrong. While it could have been worse (the probe didn’t explode or anything!), the probe got into the atmosphere and was immediately lost. It couldn’t figure out where any of its guiding stars were and immediately gave up. Its second-tier thrusters haven’t even been used yet. There was a bit of good news in that, though, and Europe’s Space Agency (ESA for short) decided to lend their hands in this terrible situation. They tried everything, but communication hadn’t been reached until they built a smaller radio dish for close-up communications. Even then, communication was very brief and has since fizzled. ESA gave up when the spacecraft was found to be tumbling along with no apparent direction. As of today, ESA has resumed communication attempts because they think it might have been trying to correct itself. Oh, and the best part? If they can’t get this craft to leave Low Earth Orbit, it will come tumbling back to earth full of all kinds of awesome fuel that is totally healthy for us and not at all toxic to life or explosive or anything.
Good luck, guys.
But honestly though, seriously Russia? Back in the day when it was still the Soviet Union, they would constantly lie and write off anything that wasn’t a success. Often, they would build their probes in pairs and if one were to fail they would dismiss it as a test on a rocket or anything that sounded less like failure. They lied about how Laika the dog died- They told the people she died quietly of poisoned food, but she was dead within five hours of being in orbit, killed by hyperventilation and overheating. Only when the Iron Curtain fell were all the files released and the lies dissolved.
I don’t have time time or the will to list all of their failures, but here is a very good example of what I’m talking about. Russia and USA have both sent probes to Mars. 13 of 19 of the USA craft have been successful, and we await the landing of MSL Curiosity next year to complete the count. Russia, on the other hand… only one of its probes were complete successes. Mars 5 was the one that was lucky enough to make it.
Russia, you have your successes under your belt. First in space, first to see the dark side of the moon, first to land on Venus…but the USA will always have you beaten. We were the first to Mars. We have the first and only successful rovers on the planet. We have the longest going project (Voyager II is STILL operating and will soon tell us what it’s like outside of the sun’s influence), the most data sent back from Saturn and Mars. We have the only pictures of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. We have the only probe GOING to Pluto.
We’re on the cusp of understanding so much about our universe. You go ahead and blow another probe up. I see you have no more pride in your space program as ROSCOSMOS than you did as the Soviet Space Program. You can keep your little triumphs.