European Space Agency suspends joint Mars mission with Russia

The ExoMars mission was due to launch in September 2022 (Credits: ESA)

The ExoMars mission has been suspended after the European Space Agency (ESA) said it would be impossible to continue working with Russia’s space agency after the invasion of Ukraine.

The ESA ‘acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos’.

The UK-built Rosalind Franklin was due to launch in September this year from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and the agency is now exploring how to move forward with the mission.

In a statement, ESA said: ‘As an intergovernmental organisation mandated to develop and implement space programmes in full respect with European values, we deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine.

‘While recognising the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its member states.’

ExoMars had been a joint mission between ESA and Roscosmos aimed at searching for signs of life on Mars, and exploring the red planet.

The mission is aimed at finding evidence of life on the red planet (Credits: ESA)

ESA’s ruling council, which met in Paris on March 16 and 17, authorised its director general, Josef Aschbacher, to take appropriate steps to suspend the cooperation activities.

Based on a first analysis of the impacts on all other activities affected by the war in Ukraine, Dr Aschbacher intends to convene an extraordinary session of council in the coming weeks to submit specific proposals for decision by member states.


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