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You're reading: Russia’s space chief says failures may be sabotage
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Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin stopped short of accusing any specific country of disabling Russian satellites, but in an interview in the daily Izvestia he said some Russian craft had suffered "unexplained" malfunctions while flying over another side of the globe beyond the reach of his nation’s tracking facilities.

Popovkin spoke when asked about the failure of the $170-million unmanned Phobos-Ground probe, which was to explore one of Mars’ two moons, Phobos, but became stranded while orbiting Earth after its Nov. 9 launch. Engineers in Russia and the European Space Agency have failed to propel the spacecraft toward Mars, and it is expected to fall back to Earth around Jan. 15.

Roscosmos spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov refused to elaborate on Popovkin’s comments, which marked the first time a senior Russian government official has claimed that foreign sabotage has been used to disable one of the country’s satellites.

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