ESA definitively postpones ExoMars mission due to sanctions against Russia

The European Mars mission ExoMars has been definitively postponed. The sanctions against Russia will not allow the mission to be launched in 2022. ESA will investigate whether it can continue the mission without Russia.

The European Space Agency has decided to follow the European sanctions policy of Europe and therefore sees no possibility of cooperating with the Russian space agency Roskosmos. In any case, that will not happen in 2022. This means that the launch of ExoMars is definitively off.

The rover would initially ascend aboard a Russian Soyuz missile. ESA says it is looking for an alternative to launch the rover. The space agency is mainly looking at the upcoming Ariane 6 rocket, although it is expected to take years before that rocket is operational.

In addition to ExoMars, there are several other European missions that have been temporarily suspended. These are the launches of the Galileo navigation satellites M10 and M11, the Euclid scientific satellite and the Earth-observation satellite EarthCARE. They would be launched by the French Arianespace, but with a Russian Soyuz rocket. Russia has already withdrawn his staff back from the European launch site Kourou in French Guiana. ESA also wants to find an alternative rocket for these missions.

The decision to postpone ExoMars is not entirely unexpected. Two weeks ago, ESA warned that the launch was “very likely” not to take place in 2022. Due to the position of Mars, it will take at least another two years before another launch attempt can be made.