The travails of the hapless Russian space probe Phobos-Grunt continue. In addition to being saddled with the worst space mission name ever, its mission has been beset by bugs and failures.
Since its launch last month, Phobos-Grunt has been circling the globe, largely incommunicado. With two brief exceptions, stations on Earth have been unable to exchange signals with the satellite, and the European Space Agency has stopped trying. Because no communication has occurred, Phobos-Grunt was not able to reach its intended orbit or fire the rockets necessary to send it on its trip to Mars and the Mars moon Phobos. Now the opportunity to reach Mars has passed, Phobos-Grunt’s orbit is unstable and decaying, and its likely fate is to come crashing back to Earth.
I’m not suggesting that all of the bad things that happened to Phobos-Grunt happened because it was cursed with an awful, uninspired name. However, I suggest that when the Russians are planning their next mission, they give some very careful thought to selecting a more uplifting name.