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Busted Phobos-Grunt in harmless splashdown

Failed probe plops into Pacific

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Failed Russian-built space probe Phobos-Grunt is now lying under the Pacific Ocean west of South America, according to Russia’s Air and Space Defence Force.

The mission never made it out of orbit after a rushed launch left it in a decaying near-Earth orbit, amid dark hints of sabotage.

Now, the Associated Press reports that its splashdown is more than 1,200 km west of Wellington Island in Chile.

Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin told the press agency the deserted southern Pacific, where the uncontrolled Phobos-Grunt splashdown took place, is also “where Russia guides its discarded space cargo ships serving the International Space Station”.

Fragments of the ambitious mission to Mars’ Phobos moon are unlikely to pose any danger, given that its fuel is expected to have burned during its crash, and due to the remoteness of the splashdown site. ®

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