Completing a year of falling space things and five months after the American shuttle program was mothballed, a Russian probe meant to go to Mars will crash land on Earth -- meaning America has not completely lost the space race. The probe had the heady mission of bringing back a chunk of the Martian moon Phobos, but a failed to even leave out planet's orbit. "While the agency had lost contact with the probe following its launch on Nov. 9, this was the first time acknowledged that the $170-million craft has been lost and will come crashing down," reports the AP. "Since its November launch the engineers in Russia and at the European Space Agency have attempted unsuccessfully to propel it away from Earths orbit and toward its target."
But before we do our victory lap, we have to remember that Russia's probe is, um, poisonous, and could hit the U.S. It "includes 11 metric tons (12 tons) of highly toxic fuel," reports the AP. "Experts had warned that if the fuel has frozen, some could survive entry into Earth and pose a serious threat if it falls over populated areas" between "51.4 degrees north to 51.4 degrees south." Yes, that includes the continental U.S. "The failed mission was the latest in a series of recent Russian launch failures that have raised concerns about the condition of the country's space industries." Makes us feel a little better about killing our shuttle program. Now there's only that other Cold War power to look out for above.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.