Popovkin: Russia ‘Well Aware’ of Risks to Phobos-Grunt [RIA Novosti]
In a post-mortem interview on the failed Phobos-Grunt Mars mission, the head of the Russian space agency said the probe was launched “despite risks of which Russian scientists were well aware,” the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reported Jan. 10.
“We were hostages to previously made decisions,” Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said. “We had commitments to the European Space Agancy, which provided equipment, and to our Chinese colleagues as we undertook the task of delivering their satellite to Mars onboard Phobos-Grunt.”
Popovkin also hinted that foul play might have played a role in the loss of Phobos-Grunt, which launched Nov. 9 but became stuck in low Earth orbit after its propulsion system failed. “I don’t want to make any accusations, but today there is powerful equipment to influence spacecrafts, and the possibility of their use should not be ruled out,” he said.