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KOROLEV (Moscow region), November 22 (Itar-Tass) —— After an abortive mission of the interplanetary station Phobos-Grunt Roscosmos is considering the variants to reorient scientific missions from the Mars to the Moon.
“If it is clear that all failed (with Phobos-Grunt), we will decide what to do next. We are already planning the Moon as the next step. Probably, it is reasonable to make some more clear-cut steps on the Moon, and as for the Mars, to stake on the joint work with our colleagues,” state secretary of deputy chief of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Vitaly Davydov told reporters on Tuesday.
European partners actively invite Russia “to participate in earnest in the ExoMars mission.” Roscosmos is debating the participation in this and other joint projects, but is planning “to focus on the Moon.” However, concrete trends of scientific missions will be clear after the Phobos-Grunt future is determined, Davydov noted.
The European Space Agency has already postponed several times the launch of a 200-kilogram robot ExoMars from 2011 to 2013, then to 2016 and finally to 2018. The spacecraft was expected to be equipped with a robotic arm for drilling, and to be provided with numerous equipment, including a panoramic view video camera, a gas analyser and a chemical mini-laboratory. The ExoMars mission is to take and analyse the samples of ground and ice from the depth of two meters and find whether they contain any organic molecules.
Phobos-Grunt is the 21st Martian mission among the missions carried out by the Soviet Union and Russia. The previous mission Mars-96 was to be put into space by the Proton-K booster in 1996, but the mission turned out to be abortive. Then over the failure in the upper stage the spaceship failed to get on a departure trajectory and was lost. In general, 12 from 20 missions were unsuccessful. Phobos-Grunt may turn in a 13th abortive mission.