All your spacecraft are belong to us.
Boffins from the Russian space agency are baffled by the odd behaviour of the Phobos-Grunt probe, which seems to be flying all on its own without the aid of its non-firing engines. The spacecraft, originally meant for a mission to Martian moon Phobos, has been stuck in an Earth orbit for most of this month after two engine …
And it's only money which can be invented out of thin air, these days, so why the dumb hassle?
“If it becomes clear that everything has failed and the insurance issue is settled… we will decide what to do next,” he said."
Circling around Earth whenever it is contracted to deliver services to Mars, and the insurance issue is not settled and full compensation not paid out yet? Isn't that just bloody typical.
From the comments that are going around on the MPML list, it's fooked.
"I just watched it pass from San Francisco. This thing is tumbling. It started out ISS bright. Then it faded. Then it intensified to the brightness of an iridium flare. Peak-to-peak was about 20 seconds.
Tommorow night, SF has an even higher viewing.
...But the Russians said they couldn't communicate, because the antennas are in the wrong orientation. So, if it's tumbling, at some point you'd think they would be OK. Would hope the other countries with the capabilities would assist.
(Wish, sometimes I didn't live so far North - 65 degrees. Then, I'd be able to see both. Rats. I'd love to. Once-in-a-lifetime.)
and even if it did, it would create some drag to create lift... and that will slow the craft down and the orbit will decay. You can't go creating enough lift to raise to a higher orbit without putting a bit more ooph out of the motors to keep the speed up... Otherwise you could throw a paper plane into orbit by hand!
I read about this a while ago, but in that case it was some orbit prediction software. It was trying to match the reported positions with an orbit, and adjusting the orbit to fit the viewings. In the end there was a cyclic variance of the orbit increasing a little, then a bit more and then decreasing in a similar way to rounding errors in some types of calculation.
We have hardly had any clear skys here since it launched for visual confirmation of the orbit :(
However, it's all for nought if the TM/TC systems are not operating.
'Course, it might just be "HELP", but hope isn't lost yet. Think the opportunity to visit Mars has gone for now, but I wondered if they can park the thing in a Lagrange spot, and, assuming it's still functional, wait for the next opportunity?
This is really interesting to watch...Bit of Apollo-13 stuff, ripping success from the jaws of failure?
"bump into any / all skys satellites and put us out of misery"
Well it didn't bump anything off permanently, but last year Galaxy 15 here over the US *did* go out of control, and drifted past the paths of Galaxy 12 and AMC11. It's bent-pipe transmitters were still running so it knocked out the signal for each satellite for about 30 minutes as it drifted path.
Anyway, if the sat's tumbling, it probably does have a leak as well.
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