Kinda looks like the old Venus probes the Ruskies landed back in the 60's. Heck for that price it might very well be a leftover from that age.
In any event, I wish them luck. Any human exploration is good exploration.
After years of delay, Russia has successfully launched its first planetary probe since the Mars 96 failure at the end of the last millenium. The craft – Фобос-Грунт, or Phobos-Grunt ("grunt" means "soil" in Russian) – lifted off right on schedule at 2:16am local time (20:16 UT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, …
You have to hand it to the Russians - they know how to design spacecraft that LOOK like spacecraft!
I always get the feeling that US spacecraft (Orion, stop sniggering up the back!) are designed with marketing brochures in mind, whereas Russian spacecraft look like they are designed to DO STUFF.
"If all goes well, Phobos-Grunt will arrive at Mars in October of next year, circle the planet for a few months, then land on the Martian moon Phobos, where it will pick up a few hundred precious grams of pebbles and dust. A return vehicle will then lift off from that moon and arrive back on Earth in 2014."
Just wow. Good luck guys!
A Russian space probe sent to collect rock and dust from a Martian moon has veered off course within minutes of starting its 33 month mission.
The Russian space agency said an engine designed to keep the probe on track failed to start.
It says the craft is currently stuck in an Earth orbit and engineers have three days to correct the fault before its batteries run out.
"I would not say it's a failure, it's a non-standard situation, but it is a working situation." - Vladimir Popovkin, the head of the Russian Space Agency.
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