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Phobos-Grunt reentry expected this weekend
Posted: Fri, Jan 13, 2012, 8:08 AM ET (1308 GMT)
Phobos-Grunt illustration (Roscosmos) Russian officials and outside experts now believe the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, trapped in a decaying Earth orbit since November, will reenter by Monday. The latest report from the US Strategic Command predicts a reentry between 9:39 pm EST Saturday (0239 GMT Sunday) and 2:39 am EST (0739 GMT) Monday. With a such a range of times, an exact reentry location cannot be predicted, although the Russian space agency Roscosmos said it now expected the spacecraft to reenter over the south Atlantic Ocean. About 20 to 30 pieces of the spacecraft, weighing up to 200 kilograms, are expected to survive reentry and reach the surface, while its hydrazine fuel will burn up in the upper atmosphere. The spacecraft, designed to go to the Martian moon of Phobos and return samples of its surface to Earth, failed to escape Earth orbit after its launch in November.
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