Soon after the ill-fated Phobos-Grunt spacecraft stalled in Earth orbit, a former Russian official implicated “powerful American radars” in Alaska.
After 19 attempts over 51 years, Russia has yet to chalk up a fully successful mission to Mars. That includes its ambitious Phobos–Grunt probe, launched November 8 from Kazakhstan and now stranded in low Earth orbit. Unable to regain control of the spacecraft, the Russians now expect it to fall back to Earth around January 9.
Responding to shame over the nation’s Mars program, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has threatened to criminally prosecute those responsible if possible. Soon after Medvedev’s comments, a former high-ranking Russian officer found a more convenient scapegoat in a remote Alaskan radar facility. But an analysis of the timing and physics involved shows that there is little basis for the claim.
Rodionov was quoted saying the U.S. wants to use the ionosphere as part of its missile defense, although he did not elaborate.
Phobos–Grunt was to retrieve soil (“grunt” in Russian) from the Martian moon Phobos and return it to Earth for study. But the rocket engine intended to boost the spacecraft into a higher orbit failed. The probe itself has since communicated only sporadically with ground stations, and even then it has murmured only unintelligible noise.
“Whereas similar radar facilities exist in Norway, Russia, Peru and other locations, HAARP is one of the most powerful.”
“HAARP routinely points itself at full power towards certain satellites” that monitor what happens at the top of the ionosphere above an IRI beam.