European Space Agency halted joint Mars mission with Russia due to conflict in Ukraine
The European Space Agency (ESA) announced on Thursday that it is suspending the launch of ExoMars, its joint mission to Mars with Russia's space agency Roscosmos, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "Our Member States have spent the last two days debating the impact of the Ukraine conflict on ESA's space programmes. "Over the past two days, our Member States discussed the impact of the war in Ukraine over ESA's space programmes. Together, we took a tough-but necessary-decision to suspend the launch of ExoMars foreseen for September, and to study options for a way forward," Josef Aschbacher, the Paris-based agency's director general, said on Twitter.
“We deeply deplore the human casualties and the tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognising the impact of scientific exploration of space, the ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States.” The statement said by ESA.
The ESA is made up of 22 countries.
The space agency released more information about its two-day meeting on the current situation in Ukraine, which took place in Paris on March 16 and 17. The following decisions were made 'unanimously,' according to the statement.
(1.) At this time, it is not possible to continue working with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission. As a result, the ESA director general was directed to take the necessary steps to halt the cooperation.
(2) The ESA DG should conduct a "fast-track" industrial study in order to better define the options for implementing the Mars mission.
An extraordinary session will be convened in the coming days for member states to submit their individual specific proposals for the way forward, according to the release.
On February 24, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin has referred to the offensive as a "special military operation" on several occasions.
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