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ESA announces the suspension of the ExoMars mission following the end of the collaboration with Russia

This was unfortunately expected: the European Space Agency (ESA) announced a few hours ago the suspension of the ExoMars missionthe latter cannot be carried out without the participation of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos. Following the economic sanctions that hit Russia in the wake of the armed invasion in Ukraine, Roscosmos withdrew from the project. ExoMars therefore immediately found itself in the dark since the Proton launcher, the Kazatchok lander and the instruments of the Rover Rosalind Franklin were of Russian design.

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It is therefore logical that Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, confirmed the suspension of ExoMars: “This launch cannot happen given the current circumstances. On a practical but also political level, it is impossible to have a launch in September (originally planned launch date of the Rover, Editor’s note). It is already rumored that the ESA could get closer to NASA to get back on a good footing with ExoMars, the American space agency having declared that it wanted to support the project.

In the best possible case, it now seems unlikely that the Rosalind Franklin rover will be able to explore the soil of Mars before 2024, but the most realistic window remains 2026 or even 2028. As a reminder, Russia has also suspended its collaboration with ArianeEspace and has withdrew its engineers from the Kourou base in French Guiana, which could lead to the postponement of several launches, including that of Ariane 6 (still scheduled for 2022).

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