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Russia delays mission to Martian moon


The Martian moon Phobos as seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera on March 23, 2008. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia has delayed the launch of the Phobos-Grunt mission to one of the Martian moons to 2011, according to a news agency report.

Ria Novosti quoted Lev Zeleny, chief of the Institute of Space Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences, as saying "I can officially announce that the Phobos-Grunt mission has been postponed until 2011."

He cited tight schedule and final testing of all systems as reasons for the delay.

The 11-ton Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, designed to land on the surface of the Martian moon Phobos and return samples of its soil back to Earth, was scheduled to lift off in October 2009.

Phobos-Grunt is an unmanned lander that will spend several months studying the planet and its moons from orbit before landing on Phobos. Under the new schedule, the return vehicle with soil samples is expected to be back on Earth in 2012, media reports said.

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