The European Space Agency has decided that is currently impossible to continue any ongoing cooperation with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and is moving forward with a “fast-track industrial study” to define how the mission can proceed without the Russians on its ambitious ExoMars astrobiology mission.
In a release, ESA said that “as an intergovernmental organization mandated to develop and implement space programs in full respect with European values, we deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognizing the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its member states.”
The decision to rethink the mission without the Russians involved came as Roscosmos has also moved to break space ties with ESA by withdrawing personnel from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana and putting all ESA missions scheduled for launch by Russian Soyuz rockets on hold. In all, five Soyuz launches of missions — Galileo M10, Galileo M11, Euclid, Earthcare and one other — have been cancelled.
The ESA statement said that the agency has begun looking for potential alternative launch services for those missions, too.
ESA has 22 European member nations and has worked frequently with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, as well as Roscosmos.
At the same time that the European-Russian space partnership has been put on hold and possibly cancelled, the cooperation between Russia and the NASA, ESA, the Japanese Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency has continued on the International Space Station.
There was earlier some doubt about Russian participation on the ISS after Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin threatened to pull out of the space station and allow it to fall back to Earth in an uncontrolled deorbit to protest of international sanctions on Russia for its Ukraine invasion.… Read more