Why did Phobos-Grunt fail?

The Russian probe destine for the Mars system never made it out of Earth Orbit and recently crashed back into Planet Earth. Why did the rocket ship fail? There has apparently been a lot of obfuscation of what caused this disaster, but now there is some better information. It may have been caused by a computer programming error.

From Irene Klotz at Discovery News:

In a report to be presented to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Tuesday, investigators concluded that the primary cause of the failure was “a programming error which led to a simultaneous reboot of two working channels of an onboard computer,” the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Though it may have been more complicated than that, and partly due to inadequate electronic parts in the computer, according The Planetary Society.


  1. #1 Antonio Mureski
    February 9, 2012

    That’s definitely cosmic rays))

  2. #2 Daniel Fischer
    February 9, 2012

    Your “better information” is actually nothing but Russian media speculation *before* the report was even released as http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2012/02/space-radiation-killed-russian.html has pointed out (Wired fell into the same trap, BTW) – the Planetary Society author at least read (a rough translation of) the actual report. Whether the latter makes sense, is an entirely different matter, of course …

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    February 9, 2012

    So the part of my post where I refer to the Planetary Society, what they say (briefly) and give a link is out of date as well?

    Anyway, thanks for the new link. Though it does ultimately provide the same link I provided.