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Russia Blames Outside Meddling for Space Failures, Izvestia Says

Russian space chief Vladimir Popovkin said outside interference may be to blame for a series of mission failures, including the loss of a Mars-bound probe, Izvestia reported.

“I don’t want to blame anyone, but today there are powerful means to affect the trajectory of spacecraft, and we can’t exclude that these have been deployed,” Popovkin, head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, was quoted as saying by the Moscow-based newspaper.

Russia, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of manned space flight in April, has experienced setbacks including the failure in November by the Phobos probe to Mars. In August, it lost its most powerful telecommunications satellite and a cargo-supply ship destined for the International Space Station. The $163 million Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which got stuck in low-Earth orbit, may crash on Jan. 15, Roscosmos said last week.

While Phobos was an almost entirely new model and carried a higher risk of malfunction, the two earlier failures stemmed from “simple shoddiness,” Popovkin said in a Nov. 22 interview. Prosecutors blame human error for the two failed space launches, concluding that both incidents happened because of the carelessness of space-industry workers.

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