Russian officials have acknowledged that a space probe bound for a moon of Mars will likely be lost.
The Phobos-Grunt probe was launched two weeks ago but failed to leave Earth’s orbit. Mission control then lost radio contact with the craft.
The $165 million probe was meant to bring soil from Mars’ largest moon back to Earth by 2014.
Russian engineers have not succeeded so far in reestablishing contact with the probe.
Vitaly Davydov, the deputy chief of Russia’s space agency Roskosmos, said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies today that there was little chance now that the mission will be realized.
Moscow has sent 16 previous missions to Mars but none has completed its mission. The latest was destroyed during a failed launch in 1996.
compiled from agency reports