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Russia sanctions hit European Mars rover

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By Nick Flaherty


The sanctions against Russia will delay or cancel several key space projects, said the European Space Agency after a high level meeting last night.

“We deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the war in Ukraine. We are giving absolute priority to taking proper decisions, not only for the sake of our workforce involved in the programmes, but in full respect of our European values, which have always fundamentally shaped our approach to international cooperation,” said the European Space Agency. “We are fully implementing sanctions imposed on Russia by our Member States.”

In particular this will hit the European ExoMars project, where the launch of a rover named Rosalind Franklin was scheduled launch on 20th September this year after having been delayed from 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Regarding the ExoMars programme continuation, the sanctions and the wider context make a launch in 2022 very unlikely,” said the agency. This will also impact on satellite launches from the spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana and work on the International Space Station, where ESA works with NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos. This highlights recent comments by the European Commission to develop a sovereign launch capability for the region.

“Regarding the Soyuz launch campaign from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, we take note of the Roscosmos decision to withdraw its workforce from Kourou. We will consequently assess for each European institutional payload under our responsibility the appropriate launch service based notably on launch systems currently in operation and the upcoming Vega-C and Ariane 6 launchers.”

ESA says it will continue to monitor the situation in close contact with its 22 Members States.

www.esa.eu

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