Full History – Unsuccessful missions to Mars since 1990


UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — On October 21, 2016, experts from the European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed the loss of the Schiaparelli demonstration module, which was to make a soft landing on the surface of Mars on October 19.

At the same time, the orbital module TGO, launched together with Schiaparelli in the framework of the Russian-European mission ExoMars-2016, successfully entered the planet’s orbit.

– Mars mission statistics –

In the entire history of space exploration, 44 missions of automated spacecraft from different countries — the USSR / Russia, the USA, Japan, China, India, and the European Space Agency — have been sent to Mars from Earth.

Of these, 16 missions – successful, seven – partially successful (including ExoMars-2016), 21 – unsuccessful.

The first attempt to send a spacecraft to Mars was undertaken in 1960 by the Soviet Union. However, the launch of Mars 1969A on October 10 from Baikonur was unsuccessful due to the shutdown of the third-stage engines of the Molniya launch vehicle (the control system failed on the 300th second of the flight).

In 1990-2016, not counting the incident with Schiaparelli, eight Martian missions did not achieve the objectives. Of these, three were launched by the United States, two by Russia, one each by Japan, China and ESA.

– Mars Observer (USA) –

On August 21, 1993, a few days before the planned entry into the Martian orbit, communication was lost with the American Mars Observer interplanetary station.

The automatic station was launched on September 25, 1992 from the launch site at Cape Canaveral by the Titan III carrier rocket. Mars Observer was to become an artificial satellite of Mars and conduct research from the orbit of the planet.

According to a report submitted in January 1994 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States (NASA), the most likely cause of the incident was the failure of the propulsion system of the spacecraft.

– Mars 96 (Russia) –

On November 16, 1996, the launch of the Russian automatic interplanetary station Mars-96 (also called Mars-8) from Baikonur with the Proton-K launch vehicle with the upper stage DM-2 ended in failure. “Mars-96” was intended for research of the planet from orbit and with the help of four small landing modules.

The automatic station could not leave the near-earth orbit and enter the flight trajectory to Mars due to the abnormal operation of the upper stage (the manufacturer is RSC Energia named after SP Korolev). The spacecraft, having made three orbits around the Earth, entered the atmosphere, where it partially collapsed, and fell on November 17 into the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The reasons for the emergency launch have not been named.

– Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander (USA) –

On September 23, 1999, when it entered Mars orbit, before the engine was scheduled to brake, communication with the American Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) automatic station was interrupted. The MCO was launched on December 11, 1998 from the launch site at Cape Canaveral by the Delta II launch vehicle.

The unmanned station was the first mission of the Mars Surveyor-98 program; was intended to conduct research from the orbit of the planet and retransmit data obtained from the Deep Space 2 probes of the second mission of this program – Mars Polar Lander (launched December 3, 1999).

NASA experts concluded that because of the incorrectly calculated trajectory, the MCO passed too close to the surface of the planet (at an altitude of 57 km instead of 226 km) and collapsed in the Martian atmosphere. As a result, it was not possible to obtain data from Mars Polar Lander probes successfully delivered to Mars.

The reason for the failure of Mars Surveyor-98 was the use of different units of measurement by specialists: for example, Lockheed Martin used the English system to manufacture the spacecraft control unit, while NASA calculated in metric. The practice of applying simultaneously different systems of measures has been used by NASA since 1990.

In 2007, the US aerospace agency announced a full transition to the metric system.

– Nozomi (Japan) –

On December 14, 2003, the Japanese interplanetary spacecraft Nozomi (from Japan – Nadezhda) failed to gain a foothold in the Martian orbit – it flew past the planet at a distance of 1,000 km. The space probe was launched on July 4, 1998 from the Kagoshima cosmodrome by the launch vehicle MV-3 ​​and was to become an artificial satellite of Mars.

Initially, the arrival of Nozomi to the planet was planned for October 1999. However, during the flight, when performing the maneuver necessary to enter the trajectory of rendezvous with Mars, the engines of the apparatus were abnormally triggered. When the probe nevertheless arrived at the planet in 2003, the engines did not start braking due to lack of fuel.

– Beagle 2 (ESA) –

On December 25, 2003, the European apparatus Beagle 2, which was delivered to the planet by the European automated station Mars Express, did not make contact with the landing on Mars. The station, consisting of the orbital and landing modules, was launched on June 2, 2003 from Baikonur by the Russian Soyuz-FG launch vehicle.

Six days before rapprochement with Mars, December 19, 2003, the separation of vehicles took place. Orbital Mars Express, which was supposed to relay data to Beagle 2 on Earth, successfully went into orbit on December 25 and is still working. As it turned out later, Beagle 2 (intended to search for traces of life on Mars) did not fully reveal the solar panels, which obscured the transmitter antenna.

– Phobos-Grunt (Russia) and Yinghuo-1 (China) –

On November 9, 2011, the attempt of Russia to launch the Phobos-Grunt automatic interplanetary station from Baikonur, which also carried the Chinese probe Yinghuo-1 (kit. – Svetlyachok-1), failed. “Phobos-Grunt” was intended for the collection and delivery of earth from the satellite of Mars – Phobos to Earth, Yinghuo-1 was to go into orbit of the planet.

The Russian-Ukrainian launch vehicle Zenit-2SB, which was used to launch, fulfilled its mission – put the station into a reference orbit. However, Phobos-Grunt could not reach the flight path to Mars: due to the failure of the automation, the propulsion system of the device did not turn on at the estimated time. In January 2012, the Phobos-Grunt and Yinghuo-1 debris that did not burn in the dense atmosphere of the atmosphere fell into the Pacific Ocean.

On January 31, 2012, the head of the Federal Space Agency, Vladimir Popovkin, stated that the interplanetary station control system had failed due to cosmic radiation. This factor, he said, was not taken into account by the developers. Guilty members of the NGO them. Lavochkin (the developer and manufacturer of Phobos-Grunt) were brought to administrative responsibility.


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