Phobos-Grunt, wake up!

You might be aware of a very interesting space mission launched this November: the Phobos-Grunt sample return mission.

Mission control does not have (2-way) communications with the vessel while in close Earth orbit (yes, this is apparently a planned situation), so it was expected to slingshot away from Earth autonomously. Although the launch went well, and positioned Phobos-Grunt on Earth orbit, the spacecraft has experienced a problem and did not insert into the elliptical (slingshot) orbit around Earth, as planned. So mission control has had a very hard time communicating with the vessel.

I read the ESA has finally managed to receive signals from the spacecraft. Here’s hoping they can regain contact with it, and that mission control can effectively send Phobos-Grunt to it’s intended destination: Mars.

More on this later.