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Wed, Jan 18, 2012

Russia Implicates U.S. In Phobos-Grunt Failure

Claims U.S. Radar May Have Interfered With Mars Probe

In what sounds like a return to Cold War rhetoric, Russian space officials are suggesting that interference from U.S. radar installations may have caused the failure of its Phobos-Grunt Mars probe.

While saying the exposure was possibly unintentional, Yury Koptev the head of the scientific committee of state technology company Russian Technologies told the RIA-Novosti news agency that such a theory exists. A former head of Roscosmos said tests will be conducted in which equipment "similar" to that used on Phobos-Grunt will be exposed to radiation that mimics exposure to U.S. radars. The test will be one of several conducted by Roscosmos in an attempt to determine why contact was lost with the probe, which splashed down in pieces in the Pacific ocean Sunday.

The French news service AFP reports that the Russians first raised the possibility of outside interference with its probe last week. The current head of Roscosmos Vladimir Popovkin openly said failures of its spacecraft often occurred over the western hemisphere. While he did not come right out and say the U.S. was deliberately causing the problems, " there are some very powerful countermeasures that can be used against spacecraft whose use we cannot exclude," he told the Izvestia daily on January 10.

Phobos-Grunt was the most recent in a string of Russian space failures, which included an unmanned Progress re-supply ship to ISS, and several military and civilian satellites.



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