The head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos--you know, the one that hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success lately--isn’t sure exactly why Russia’s doomed Phobos-Grunt mission failed to fire its engines and escape Earth’s orbit on a trajectory for Mars. But he’s got a theory: it’s the West’s fault. At least, that seems to be the between-the-lines meaning of a statement made to the Russian newspaper Izvestia.
”I do not want to blame anyone, but these days there are very powerful means to influence space vehicles,” Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin told Izvestia, adding “we do not understand frequent failures of our space vehicles when they fly over the shadow, for Russia, part of the Earth. Right there we are unable to see the vehicle and to receive its telemetry.”The shadow for Russia, of course, is the other side of the planet (read: North America, or possibly Europe). And naturally Popovkin isn’t the first to suggest that the Phobos-Grunt failure might be the result of external meddling. Back in November, a retired Russian general who was once chief of the country’s ballistic missile early warning system told the Interfax news agency that American radar sites in Alaska were the cause of Phobos-Grunt’s failure.