Bits of Russia space probe set to fall Jan. 15

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MOSCOW (AP) ? Russian officials say fragments of a failed space probe are now expected to fall to Earth on Jan. 15.

The unmanned Phobos-Ground probe was launched Nov. 9 on what was supposed to have been a 2 1/2-year mission to the Mars moon of Phobus to take soil samples and fly them back to Earth.

But it became stuck in Earth’s orbit and attempts to send commands that could propel it toward the Mars moon were unsuccessful.

As the probe’s orbit slowly deteriorated, space officials predicted it would come crashing down by late February.

A precise date was given Wednesday by a spokesman for the air and space defense troops, who said any fragments that do not burn up in the atmosphere are expected to fall to Earth on Jan. 15.