The European Space Agency is suspending plans to launch a Mars Exploration Mission with Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine, agency director general Josef Aschbacher speak Thursday.
The plan had been to launch the ExoMars rover – aimed at finding out if there was life on Mars – from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan this fall, but ESA’s leadership rejected that plan after a meeting in Paris.
“The decision was made that this launch cannot happen under the current circumstances, especially given the sanctions imposed by our member countries,” Aschbacher said. “This makes it practically impossible, and also politically impossible.”
That means the next launch window for the Mars mission will be in 2024, although that is also unlikely given the cost and time involved in finding an alternative to the Russian contribution.
“Obviously not launching with [Russia space agency] Roscosmos will make the 2022 launch date impossible, this launch window will be gone,” said Aschbacher. The launch “won’t actually be before 2026.”
Aschbacher said negotiations have begun with NASA about how it will proceed to support the project, and the agency’s 22 member states will make a decision on how to proceed by the end of the year.
Further complicating the European space program, Russia also withdrew its staff from the ESA’s spaceport in French Guiana, making five satellite launches with the Soyuz rocket system impossible. That includes the launch of the EU Galileo navigation satellite network.
https://www.politico.eu/article/russia-mars-mission-european-space-agency-scraps-plans/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication European Space Agency plans Mars mission with Russia - POLITICO