Europe has ended its collaboration with Russia within the framework of the ExoMars program
We knew that the Mars rover of Europe was no longer going to use a Russian rocket to reach the planet Marsnow ESA officials have just announced the definitive end of the partnership with Russia.
The mission which was to send the European rover called Rosalind Franklin on Mars was developed by theESA in collaboration with the Russian space agency Roscosmos. It is part of a larger program calledExoMars. Initially, the rover was to be launched by a Russian rocket Proton from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rover was also to land on Mars using Russian lander Kazachok.
Last February, ESA decided to suspend Russia’s participation in the ExoMars program. Recently, the European Space Agency announced through its manager, Joseph Aschbacherthat the suspension had evolved into an end of collaboration.
The decision and its implications
Aschbacher said that during a meeting held on July 12, the ESA Council recognized that the circumstances which led to the suspension of cooperation with Roscosmos continued to prevail. The council thus asked him to officially cease cooperation with Roscosmos within the framework of the ExoMars program.
Aschbacher added that new ideas on how to progress with other partners will be presented during a press briefing on July 20.
In any case, this decision has mission implications. For example, the rover was scheduled to take off next September, but since the European agency must now find another launcher and a new landing platform, Rosalind Franklin has unlikely to be launched before 2028.
A long collaboration
This collaboration, which has just officially ended, began quite some time ago. The ExoMars program is indeed divided into two phases and began in 2016.
During the first phase, the program focused on the European orbiter TGO or Trace Gas Orbiterand on the demonstration performed by the lander Schiaparelli. These two elements were both launched using a Russian Proton rocket in March 2016.
The TGO orbiter succeeded in entering Martian orbit and today continues to study the Red Planet. As for the Schiaparelli lander, which was to test the landing technology used by the rover, it crashed during its descent in October 2016.
Be that as it may, let’s wait until July 20 to find out the measures that will be taken by ESA to carry out the rest of the ExoMars program.