Planned Euro-Russia Joint Mars Mission Called ‘Very Likely’

this Launch planned in 2022 The European Space Agency said on Monday that it is “highly unlikely” that a European space mission with Russia will land a robot on Mars.

The possible postponement of the mission is a result of the European Union’s sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Civil space cooperation between Russia and Western countries has made progress for decades, despite areas of conflict on the ground. But the military conflict in Ukraine has interfered with both sides’ ability to compartmentalize what happens in space from what happens on the planet’s surface.

The ExoMars mission, which includes a robotic rover built by the European Space Agency along with a landing platform provided by Russia, was expected to launch from a Russian-owned spaceport in Kazakhstan in the fall of this year. In 2023, the two partners would then attempt a landing involving a rover. Named for an English scientist Rosalind Franklin The person who helped discover the structure of DNA.

But the ESA, a group of 22 European countries, said in a brief statement that it regrets “the human casualties and tragic consequences of the war in Ukraine,” saying “sanctions and the wider context make a launch in 2022 highly unlikely.”

ESA’s statement suggests a delay of at least two years is more certain for the ExoMars mission, which is designed to cross the Martian surface with cameras, sensors and a drill to look for clues to potential ancient life. Journeys to Mars typically begin about every two years during a window during which the red planet aligns with Earth and allows for a shorter journey. Financing and engineering issues had previously delayed the mission from its 2018 launch. this The Covid-19 pandemic and technical problems caused the mission’s latest delay in 2020.

The ExoMars stalemate is the latest fallout of civilian space from the invasion of Russia. Last week, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said that ESA would halt the horsepower Soyuz rocket launch from its launch pad in French Guiana and bring home 87 Russian personnel from the field, “de facto suspending cooperation with European partners in organizing space launches.” This could affect at least four European missions in the coming months.

The war also questioned the fate of other international space partnerships, such as those on the International Space Station, an orbital science laboratory mainly run by NASA and Roscosmos. alliances that make up The twenty-year-old station, a symbol of post-Cold War diplomacy, It has survived past geopolitical conflicts on Earth.

The space station relies on both electricity from the American division to power the outpost and the engines on the tethered Russian spacecraft to maintain its orbit. Beginning in 2011, NASA relied on Russia’s rockets to get its astronauts into orbit when the space shuttles retired. But that has changed 2020 When SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule begins carrying NASA crews into orbit. Both parties have recently Negotiation for the launch of Russian astronauts on the SpaceX vehicle.

Although Washington unleashes stricter export control laws for tech trade Between the US and Russia last week, NASA said the new rules will “continue to allow for US-Russian civil space cooperation.” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s chief of space operations, said at a news conference on Monday that she saw no indication that Russia’s commitment to the International Space Station was waning or that NASA should plan to continue the orbit of the space station without Russian assistance.

“If we can’t continue to operate in space, it will be a sad day for international operations,” he said.

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