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Mars mission suspended due to Ukraine war

Mars mission suspended due to Ukraine war

Paris: Russia and Europe have suspended their mission to land a rover on Mars over sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement confirming the suspension of the ExoMars mission, agency said, "We deeply regret the loss of human life and tragic consequences due to the aggression against Ukraine."

It was originally planned to launch the rover on Mars in September using a Russian launcher and lander to look for signs of life.

Russian space agency Roscosmos, however, suspended launches and withdrawn more than 100 of its workers from Kourou's spaceport in response to EU sanctions over the invasion.

According to ESA's ruling council, its director general will conduct an "accelerated industrial study" to determine just how best to move forward with the ExoMars rover mission.

It originally planned to launch ExoMars in 2020, but the pandemic caused it to be delayed.

The Soyuz rocket was to launch it from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and the Kazachok lander would bring it down to Mars.

In order to launch the Rosalind Franklin rover, named after an English chemist and DNA pioneer, into space without Russian assistance, huge revisions are likely to be required -- and the launch window only occurs every two years.

The agency said it has suspended all other ESA missions using the Russian Soyuz rocket.

According to the ESA statement, "the International Space Station programme continues to operate nominally".

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency, warned again over the weekend that Western sanctions against Russia could bring the ISS down.

There have been fears that escalating tensions between the US and Russia could prevent US astronaut Mark Vande Hei from returning to Baikonur on a Soyuz rocket later this month.

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TAGS:Ukraine warEuropean Space AgencyExoMars
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