Requiem for a Dream - there is a great analysis of the Phobos-Grunt mission failure over on russianspaceweb.com; the article identifies a rush to launch with a slew of last minute changes as the root cause of the failure. There are some very serious / hard lessons to be learned here, and hopefully this experience will be helpful in avoiding repeats of the same problem.
It had become clear that all control signals from multiple cables had been channeled to the same driving mechanism. This mistake could not be fixed by re-routing cables, instead requiring complex changes in the flight control software. Last updates to the programming software had to be added right at the launch site, leaving no time for a new round of tests.
There’re no doubts that Phobos-Grunt was both risky and ambitious. However, trying to do more with less is quickly becoming the defining theme of this century; regardless of its final result, I applaud the effort of Phobos-Grunt to reach out and return home with a chunk of another world (something that hasn’t happened in almost 40 years now).
No matter the outcome, as Russia’s first deep-space mission developed entirely in the post-Soviet period, Phobos-Grunt will be an important step to pave the way for a new generation of robotic explorers heading to the Moon, Venus, Mars and other destinations in the Solar System.