If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again… 18 times?
Fobos-Grunt is stuck in low Earth orbit and may be unsalvagable. The engines that were supposed to place it on a Mars-bound trajectory failed to start. In a few days, the probe may fall back to the Earth, raising concerns about tons of toxic hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide fuel on board.
My fingers are firmly crossed. This is Russia’s first attempt to launch an interplanetary spacecraft since the 1996 failure of Mars 96, and a very ambitious attempt indeed, with a planned sample return from the Mars moon Phobos. Whatever it is that went wrong, I hope they can fix it in time.
Prior to Fobos-Grunt, Russia tried to launch a Mars probe 18 times. All were failures or partial failures, with only a few of them operating for a limited time after reaching Mars.