A Russian spacecraft that failed to head for Mars after its November launch will fall back to Earth Jan. 9, experts said.
The Phobos-Grunt mission, launched Nov. 9, was supposed to return rock and soil samples from the martian moon Phobos but has been stuck in a so-called support orbit since its thrusters failed to put it on course for the Red Planet, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
The probe will break up during re-entry and none of the fragments is likely to reach Earth, said Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.
The spacecraft's 7.5 tons of fuel is stored in aluminum tanks that are expected to explode upon re-entry.
The Astronomical Research Center (A.R.C) mentioned that Experts at NASA said Russia has failed in all 17 of its attempts to send study missions to Mars since 1960.
Russia may join European Mars mission
Moscow (UPI) Dec 9, 2011 - Russia could become a full partner in a planned U.S.-European Mars exploration mission, a European Space Agency spokesman said.
Senior NASA, ESA and Russian space agency Roscosmos officials have agreed to continue talks on the issue, ESA's Franco Bonacina said.
ESA Science Director Alvaro Gimenez Canete met with Charles J. Gay, NASA Associate Administrator, and deputy Roscosmos head Anatoly Shilov at ESA headquarters in Paris Wednesday, RIA Novosti reported.
The meeting "ended with optimism" that Russia could provide a Proton rocket to launch a European-led Mars mission in 2016 in exchange for full membership in the exploration project, Bonacina said.
ESA's ExoMars project is facing difficulties due to a reduction of financing from NASA.
Oleg Korablyov, a deputy director of Russia's space research institute, said Russian scientists are interested in joining the project to speed up the development of his country's own program of Mars research as well as cut its expenditures.
All of Russia's 17 independent attempts to study Mars since 1960 have failed, NASA said.