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InternationalEurope finally refused to cooperate with Russia on the ExoMars mission

Europe finally refused to cooperate with Russia on the ExoMars mission

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has decided to permanently end cooperation with Roscosmos on the second part of the ExoMars project, which involved sending a Russian landing platform and a European rover to Mars, said agency director Josef Aschbacher. Earlier, in connection with the military actions of Russia on the territory of Ukraine, this cooperation was frozen, but now it has been finally terminated.

The ExoMars program started at ESA in 2005, when it was assumed that the rover and landing platform would be sent to Mars with the help of the Russian Soyuz. In 2009, a variant with the participation of NASA began to be worked out, and the American Atlas was planned as a launch vehicle. However, in 2012, due to a budgetary crisis associated in particular with the high costs of the James Webb telescope, NASA withdrew from the project and was replaced by Roscosmos, which promised to provide two Proton rockets for two launches in 2016. year (orbiter) and in 2018 (landing platform and rover).

In 2016, the Trace Gas Orbiter with Russian and European scientific instruments went into space, which successfully entered orbit around Mars and is working safely, as well as the Schiaparelli demonstration descent module, which crashed during landing. We wrote more about this mission in the material “Looking for you”.

The launch of the second mission was first delayed to 2020 due to problems with the landing parachute, and then pushed back for another two years due to the pandemic. By the summer of 2022, when the launch was planned, both the Russian landing module Kazachok and the Rosalind Franklin rover were already ready, but after Russian troops entered the territory of Ukraine, ESA said that the launch of the rover in 2022 is unlikely. The head of Roskosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, after that, nevertheless, said that Proton-M was ready to be sent to Baikonur.

Now, according to Aschbacher, the ESA board has come to the conclusion that the circumstances that led to the suspension of cooperation with Roskosmos (the hostilities in Ukraine and the sanctions caused by them) persist. In this regard, the board instructed the director to officially terminate cooperation with the Russian space agency on the ExoMars mission. Details about the further fate of the project are expected to be made public on July 20.

The Europeans have previously said they will look for other partners for the ExoMars mission.

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