Thursday, 10 November 2011

Phobos Grunt

There's a lot being said about this mission online, mostly supportive of the ROSCOSMOS team, who, given the budgetary constraints faced by almost everyone globally, have attempted, what seemed to be the impossible. Using largely untested equipment, move a multi-tonne satellite, one of the largest ever, in to an orbit around the Martian moon Phobos, land a sample collection probe, and get that back to Earth. The failure, after what seemed like a perfect launch to get from low Earth orbit (at time of writing), is indicative of the level of risk they faced.

Does this mean the end of ROSCOCMOS with regards to deep space missions. The great galactic ghoul does seem to be attracted to Russian missions when it comes to Mars (but then look at the amazing success of their Venus missions), with so far 18/18 missions all failing in one way or another, but one has to admire the fact that they are trying something so audacious and complex, in these chastened times (unless you're a bank, in which case, what's chastened?), and even if it does fail, at the cost of <$170 million, according to estimates, it's a relatively small price compared to other missions.

The story is unfolding still, maybe they will recover it, maybe it will splash down in to the sea in the next 4 weeks...but, maybe humankind will take some inspiration from the effort being put in to doing something, not because it is easy...but because it is hard.

1 comment: