Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European Space Agency has suspended a joint mission with the country to explore Mars.
Although the second part of the ExoMars program involving a robot rover was scheduled to launch later this September, ESA has announced that the space organization had to suspend the mission following European Union’s sanctions against Russia for its war in Ukraine.
The space agency said, “While recognizing the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States.”
While ESA was set to launch the second part of the program later this year, the organization’s ruling council concluded that it’s impossible to carry out the launch with Roscosmos. As a result, the space agency has ordered a fast-track industrial study to find alternatives.
This announcement comes shortly after ESA had announced few days earlier that it’s unlikely that the ExoMars mission would proceed this year due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Although not surprising, it’s a disappointing news for astronomers as ESA has been working on its Mars rovers for several years.
It’s likely that it’ll take some time for ESA to find an alternative way to deliver its rover to Mars.