Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
It’s official: Phobos-Grunt is now expected to fall to Earth sometime around January 16.
Meanwhile, the head of the Russian space agency is looking for a scapegoat for his country’s recent space failures.
Roskosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin told the Izvestia daily he could not understand why several launches went awry at precisely the moment the spacecraft were travelling through areas invisible to Russian radar. “It is unclear why our setbacks often occur when the vessels are travelling through what for Russia is the ‘dark’ side of the Earth — in areas where we do not see the craft and do not receive its telemetry readings,” he said. “I do not want to blame anyone, but today there are some very powerful countermeasures that can be used against spacecraft whose use we cannot exclude,” Popovkin told the daily.
With leadership like this, Russia might soon join the U.S. as a country unable to get astronauts into space.