When it comes to space exploration, the U.S. has always had a bit of a competitive relationship with Russia. Well, things have changed since the Space Race of decades ago. This past Fall, it was reported that the former rivals would collaborate on an effort to build the first lunar space station, fueling both countries’ ambitions to eventually get to Mars.
But just because an olive branch has been extended by NASA in this case, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take this opportunity to have a giggle at the expense of the Russian space program.
It’s recently been reported that Russia’s November launch of a $45 million weather satellite called Meteor M didn’t pan out very well. The reason? Well, they actually can’t find it.
Lost in space is one thing, but the reason is a bit embarrassing: it seems the satellite got off course because it was never really on course: someone programmed the coordinates wrong. In late December, Russia’s deputy prime minister admitted that there was a mix-up over which launch pad the satellite would deploy from. Its coordinates were programmed as if it were being launched from a Russia-leased spaceport in Kazakhstan, when it instead launched from a location in the Eastern part of Russia.
The Meteor M was said to be carrying 18 smaller satellites for other countries – including the U.S. – set to achieve research and commercial objectives, as well as amass five years’ worth of information for Russia’s weather agency.
Officials suggest the space program scientists weren’t thorough enough in failing to detect a problem with the algorithms in the control system, and that they’ve been reprimanded, which seems light considering that, at most jobs, losing $45 million might result in a more significant punishment.