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Failed Spacecraft to Be Upgraded for Moon Mission

The Fobos-Grunt spacecraft didn't make it to Mars, but a descendent will be shot off to the moon, space officials said.

The Federal Space Agency is planning to send two spacecraft for a rendezvous with the moon using Fobos-Grunt as a base for one of them.

Engineers have been working on two robotic missions to the moon, an orbiter called the Luna-Globe and a lander called the Lunar-Resource, which will study the soil of the moon's southern hemisphere, developer NPO Lavochkin said in statement Tuesday.

Engineers are preparing two prototypes and making "necessary modifications" to the design of the Fobos-Grunt to create the Lunar-Globe, which is to orbit the moon, it said. The Lunar-Resource landing spacecraft, it said, will feature "an original construction" while also combining Soviet expertise.

The Lunar-Globe is expected to be launched by 2015 and the Lunar-Resource in 2017 or 2018.

An engine malfunction prevented the $161 million Fobos-Grunt from reaching orbit last year, causing it to crash into the Pacific Ocean. The failure raised questions about the capabilities of Russia's space industry.

But hopes for a repeat mission have not been lost, with space agency chief Vladimir Popovkin saying earlier this month that another probe would be sent to Mars by 2025.

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