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Debris From Russian Spacecraft Falls Into Pacific

The Fobos-Grunt probe

The Fobos-Grunt probe

A spokesman for Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces says fragments of Russia’s failed Mars probe, Fobos-Grunt, have crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

Russian news agencies quoted Colonel Aleksei Zolotukhin as saying the fragments fell 1,250 kilometers west of Wellington Island, off the coast of Chile, just two months after the $165 million vessel was launched in what was meant to be a 2 1/2 year mission.

At 13 tons, the craft represents one of the biggest uncontrolled falls to Earth in recent years. Russian and U.S. space officials said the majority of the 13.5-ton spacecraft would burn up upon reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Russia had hoped the mission, which was aimed at collecting valuable data from the Martian moon Phobos, would revive its national space program and pave the way for a manned mission to the so-called red planet.

But Russia lost control of the probe almost immediately after its November 9 launch and had been unable to control its descent.

The Fobos-Grunt was also carrying a Chinese satellite it had been due to put into orbit around Mars.

compiled from agency reports

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