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Counterfeits in Space?

31 Jan 2012, 20:05 UTC
Counterfeits in Space?
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The preliminary report on Phobos-Grunt, the Russian Mars probe that crashed into the Pacific Ocean, has been released. The report’s findings are that the main flight control computer reset before engine firing due to heavy charged particle interaction with the computer chips. The idea is suspect enough — shielding electronics from such particles was a lesson learned early on, and not one that any space programme is likely to repeat.If you accept Roscosmos’ version of events, such a greivous error may be due to substandard or even counterfeit chips. As detailed by Anatoly Zak of Russian Space Web, more likely the fault is a basic design error compounded by lack of testing.Counterfeit parts are an oft-found, little-discussed reality of aerospace, found in everything from active commercial airliners to brand-new military aircraft. This may be, however, the first time a counterfeit part has made its way into space.

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