The head of the Russian space agency said Tuesday that cosmic radiation is the most likely cause of the problems that led to the collapse of the Phobos-Ground in January. Probably substandard imported components were vulnerable to the effects of radiation.
Unmanned automatic interplanetary station Phobos-Grunt was supposed to arrive at the satellite of Mars, Phobos and bring back soil samples. But it got stuck in Earth orbit shortly after launch, which took place on November 9. The station fell to Earth on Jan. 15, in the coastal zone of Chile, though the wreckage was found.
Such an emergency situation hurt the prestige of the Russian Space and Popovkin initially suggested that there had been an international sabotage. But on Tuesday, he said on television that, as shown by the investigation, the most likely cause is a "strong local influence of cosmic radiation."
Popovkin said that some microchips used on AMC, were imported and may not meet the requirements of quality of the radiation resistance. He did not specify the country of origin of these chips. Koptev leading an investigation into the crash, which once led the Federal Space Agency, said that 62 percent of microchips, which was equipped with a station that belonged to the industrial class, which does not meet the higher standards of space flight.
Popovkin said that the manufacturers of the station, Moscow NPO. Lavochkin, should have taken into account the possibility of radiation effects, and promised that those responsible will be punished for this negligence.
Popovkin later announced that a scheduled March 30 launch of three astronauts to the ISS is delayed, "probably before the end of April" because of problems with the device. Although further clarification is not forthcoming, the state news agency quoted the head of the Russian cosmonaut training program, which specified that the joints of the compartment were detected leaks. For Russia, this will be the second significant delay manned space launch this year.