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Mars Space Politics

Russian Official Implies Foul Play In Mars Probe Failure 451

Back in November, Russia launched the Phobos-Grunt probe on a mission to return a soil sample from Mars' largest moon. Sadly, the probe malfunctioned, and never left orbit. It's due to crash into the Indian Ocean this weekend. An anonymous reader points out some interesting comments from a Russian official, Vladimir Popovkin, who obliquely suggested that interference from other countries was a possible cause of the failure. Quoting: "Mr. Popovkin’s remarks to the newspaper Izvestia were the first high-level suggestion of nefarious interference. A retired commander of Russia’s missile warning system had speculated in November that strong radar signals from installations in Alaska might have damaged the spacecraft. 'We don’t want to accuse anybody, but there are very powerful devices that can influence spacecraft now,' Mr. Popovkin said in the interview. 'The possibility they were used cannot be ruled out.' ... Mr. Popovkin did not directly implicate the United States in the interview. But he said 'the frequent failure of our space launches, which occur at a time when they are flying over the part of Earth not visible from Russia, where we do not see the spacecraft and do not receive telemetric information, are not clear to us,' an apparent reference to the Americas."
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Russian Official Implies Foul Play In Mars Probe Failure

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  • by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:57AM (#38674138)
    We are talking about Russia where a significant portion of the residents still believe the moon landing was a fake [] 40 years later.

    Of course it would be remiss for anyone to rule out the US doing nasty things with technology, since they refuse to comment on anything but always turn up red-handed.
  • by timholman ( 71886 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:11PM (#38674326)

    One of my co-workers is Russian, and he still keeps in touch with friends and family back home. We've been discussing the recent anti-government protests in Moscow, and he says that the government-controlled media (which includes all of TV and radio, and many of the newspapers) has gone into overdrive accusing the U.S. for being behind almost everything that's currently going wrong in Russia. In his words, "Blaming America is all they have left."

    Implying that the U.S. is responsible for their spacecraft failure is just part of that game. Russia has been launching spacecraft for decades, and it is silly to think that they didn't learn how to deal with contingencies such as deliberate jamming long ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:13PM (#38674360)

    Fox News and Wikipedia claim 20%, news at... er, anyway. And 25% of UK [].

  • by Morty ( 32057 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:14PM (#38674368) Journal

    Russian President Medvedev threatened to prosecute those responsible for the space failures []. No surprise that the individuals in question are now looking to blame someone else.

  • by inviolet ( 797804 ) <slashdot@ideasma ... g minus caffeine> on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:26PM (#38674550) Journal

    Russian President Medvedev threatened to prosecute those responsible for the space failures []. No surprise that the individuals in question are now looking to blame someone else.

    Yeah, THAT will sure attract new talent to their space program! Alex, I'll take Perverse Incentives for 500 rubles, please!

    And never mind the equally important point that the current team at least learned something and won't repeat this particular mistake again. Can't say that for the new team.

  • by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <> on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:45PM (#38674812) Homepage

    point it's solar panels away from the sun?

    Well, theoretically, a very strong radar pulse could cause ionization around the star sensors, which would make the spacecraft unable to tell which way was up and which was down. That would screw up the solar cell deployment pretty badly.

    That's a crazy scenario, about on par with believing that reptiloids control Switzerland, but like all crazy theories there's a tenuous path of logic behind it.

  • Re:Malice? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ihatewinXP ( 638000 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:57PM (#38674970)

    I have seen discussions on HARP on Slashdot before - and some interesting comments relating to it that have always stuck with me.

    One story was about a grandfather who worked on HARP - said he told stories of having to be taken to the dentist by armed guard and watched while he went under gas in case he started to talk. Then about 3 posts down someone basically tells the same story and ends with his grandfather telling him: "I dont know exactly what we are building, but it ain't for watching the weather, thats for sure."

    So before we all go "tin foil hat alert!" this may be more than a case of 'whipping up enemies' and 'passing the buck' - this might be a little glimpse into a world we are rarely told of...

  • by aintnostranger ( 1811098 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @01:11PM (#38675176)
    The problem with your arguments is that you give the US too much credit. Yes, the US secret services have had lots of involvement in orchestrating stuff in the past, but it seems you are taking it to a "no revolution happens without the US behind it". That's very irrational IMHO. I'm from a country in which the US has meddled in the past and pressed for regime changes, sometimes succesfully. But here people make the same mistake. They think that just because the US has tried and succeeded at *some* regime changes, then it has to be behind *every* regime change/revolution. I think its very counterproductive to think like that, as its a way to perpetuate the myth of North American invencibility.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @01:13PM (#38675204)

    Worth noting there are almost two dozen HAARP-like, top secret and classified installations all over the world. All projecting massive eneergy levels into the atmosphere for "research". These are owned and operated by a handful of countries, including Russia.

    What is know about these projects is that both the US DoD and USAF have been directly associated with all US installations and leaked + FOI documents indicate both the DoD and USAF histofically planned to use these facilities for climate/weather influence and/or control. Its also known since these early days they have branched out into various other types of "atmospheric research", which is currently classified. To put it bluntly, this in no way sounds like the typical Russian hot-air. Chances are reasonable, intentional or otherwise, one of these stations may have unduly influenced the operation of their rocket.

    Now if we take very reasonable assumptions based on established facts and combine a little paranoia, we can come up with an interesting theory. NASA is basically defunct and there are powerful interests in the US who absolutely do not want to rely on Russia for space access. It wasn't until NASA' immediate space access was drawn into question that Russia's rockets suddenly started having problem; despite a long history of relatively high reliability. Worse yet, this easily falls well into the US' dirty tricks+plausable deniabilty combination it loves so much.

    Tin foil hat? Maybe. But it doesn't mean its wrong either.

  • by mbkennel ( 97636 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @02:15PM (#38676128)

    "Russians never had access to Levis"

    Yes they did, at least a little. Foreigners were offered quite a bit of money/stuff to part with theirs. Burning them was *not* their subsequent use, btw.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @02:46PM (#38676502)

    Why in fuck's sake would we (a) sabotage a scientific mission,

    The inability to grasp the obvious is stunning on slashdot these days. With no Russian transport, the only other option is to spur US development. Even the notion of an unrealiable Russian transport is capable of achieving the same effect.

    and (b) piss off the people who carry us to the ISS?

    Perhaps you don't know what "plausable denability" means. Not surprising since this is slashdot after all.

    Agh. The level of low intelligence so hurriedly attempting to pass itself off as high intelligence around here is disturbing.

    And then there is mbkennel's response which is braindead stupid. Perhaps people should make an effort to LEARN before they sound like idiots with ignorance and delusion. The fact remains, mbkennel's repsonse "informative" only to the ignorant who don't know its full of holes and is complete shit. But as is typical on slashdot these days, the ignorant only wants to moderate their own ignorance so as to re-enforce the superiority of their own inferior intellect. Shesh.

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