Russian Mars probe crashes into Pacific

Russian Federal Space Agency specialists work on the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft in October.

Story highlights

  • Phobos-Grunt was supposed to land on one of the moons of Mars
  • It launched on November 9 but never escaped Earth orbit

The failed Russian space probe Phobos-Grunt fell back to Earth on Sunday, crashing in the southeastern Pacific Ocean off Chile, Russia's state news agency Itar-Tass announced.

The spacecraft crashed about 1,250 km (775 miles) west of Chile's Wellington Island, according to a Russian military spokesman quoted by Itar-Tass.

The nearly 15-ton probe was supposed to have landed on one of the moons of Mars and send back soil and rock samples. But its engines failed to boost it out of Earth orbit after its November 9 launch, and Russian officials estimated that fragments weighing up to 440 pounds could have survived re-entry.