Russia Suspects Spacecraft Was Shot Down
Failed Mars probe may have been hit by weapon, says official
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2012 2:12 PM CST
Russian space engineers work to prepare the unmanned Phobos-Grunt probe on the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Nov. 2, 2011.   (AP photo/ Russian Roscosmoc space agency, HO)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Russia suspects sinister forces may have been at work in the failure of its Phobos-Grunt probe, which was supposed to make it to one of Mars' moons. The probe was launched in November, but it failed to make it out of low orbit, and is now plummeting Earth-ward instead. The head of Russia's space agency tells a Russian newspaper he thinks that wasn't a mistake, reports the New York Times, but rather an attack from some kind of anti-satellite weapon.

"We don't want to accuse anybody," he said. "But there are very powerful devices that can influence spacecraft now. The possibility they were used cannot be ruled out." He didn't directly accuse the US, but he did note that Russia's spacecraft have had a tendency to fail "at a time when they are flying over the part of Earth not visible from Russia," as in, oh, say, the Americas. As for the plummeting probe, the best guess is that it will splash into the Indian Ocean later this week, notes ABC of Australia.