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02:06 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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Russia yet to make contact with Mars moon probe

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Attempts during the night to receive a signal from the unmanned lander Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which failed to reach its orbit after separating from the launch vehicle on November 9, have so far been to no avail, a source in the space industry said on Friday.

Attempts during the night to receive a signal from the unmanned lander Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which failed to reach its orbit after separating from the launch vehicle on November 9, have so far been to no avail, a source in the space industry said on Friday.

“The spacecraft repeatedly passed over the Baikonur station and other Russian and foreign points of space communications during the night. There is no news yet,” the spokesman said.

The Phobos-Grunt probe was launched from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, but its engines failed to put it on course for the Red Planet.

The mission is Russia’s first foray into deep space since losing a Mars-bound lander in 1996.

The craft, designed to bring back rock and soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos, is currently stuck in a “support orbit.”

The source also said that the probe might strike Earth no earlier than December 3, but by that time it may be back in service.

Citing data from the U.S. space surveillance systems, several media reported earlier on Friday that the probe may crash to Earth on November 26.

Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, said on Wednesday engineers had two weeks to restart the probe's booster before its batteries ran out.

“A more thorough analysis of the orbit’s parameter and the supply of fuel onboard has shown that such commands must be delivered within two weeks,” Popovkin said, adding that the craft can stay in the orbit for up to four weeks.

The Phobos-Grunt is also carrying China’s first Mars satellite, Yinghuo-1.