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01:19 GMT +3 hours22 December 2014
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Russia has two weeks to put Mars probe back on track

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Engineers have up to two weeks to correct the path of a Russian probe bound for Mars, a top space official said on Wednesday.

Engineers have up to two weeks to correct the path of a Russian probe bound for Mars, a top space official said on Wednesday.

The Phobos-Grunt probe 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.”

Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, said engineers had two weeks to re-start 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.