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RF, Europe plan Mars exploration, US abandons costly space progs

May 23, 2012, 13:35 UTC+3
Countries are developing ambitious plans of deep space exploration, including missions to the Moon and Mars
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WASHINGTON, May 23 (Itar-Tass) — Russia and European countries are developing ambitious plans of deep space exploration, including missions to the Moon and Mars, and the United States refuses from costly space programs, saving public money, it became clear from discussions at the Global Space Exploration Conference that opened in Washington, DC, on Tuesday. Head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) Vladimir Popovkin attended the event.

The Global Space Exploration brings together the global space exploration stakeholder, including senior administrators and exploration managers from the major space agencies, industry, governments, academia and NGOs. Leaders in the field gather in Washington to present results, exchange ideas, debate roadmaps, and discuss the future opportunities provided by human and robotic space exploration.

Having told the forum participants about Russia’s space projects, he noted that in the long term, they provide for comprehensive exploration of the Moon, including the creation of habitable bases on it. “It’s not about the achievements of mankind 40 years ago,” said Popovkin.”It’s about establishing permanent bases on the Moon.”

Representatives of the European and Japanese space agencies confirmed their interest in international cooperation in this sphere. “We see the Moon as the next target of space exploration by humankind,” Associate Executive Director of the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) Yuichi Yamaura stated.

Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) Jean-Jacques Dordain said for his part that the first launches under the ExoMars program to which Russia has acceded instead of the United States, is still scheduled for 2016, although another 350 million euro are required for its implementation. In general, the ESA program for which the Russia Federal Space Agency will provide the Proton launch vehicles and scientific equipment, is estimated at 1.2 billion euro. Its goal is to study the Red Planet with orbiting unmanned spacecraft and the landing of the rover on its surface for taking soil samples.

Earlier this year, NASA announced that it refuses from two joint projects with the ESA on Mars exploration and will limit itself to the launch of only one satellite in 2018. The reason for this is NASA budget cuts in the next fiscal year by 0.3 percent.

Incidentally, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden did not attend the Tuesday conference in Washington, DC, within a stone's-throw from NASA headquarters. However, he had a good reason for that: he was at the launch site at Cape Canaveral in Florida where the Dragon private spaceship was launched for the first time to the International Space Station (ISS). To the disappointment of the symposium participants, Chinese representatives did not attend the event either. At the same time, the heads of a number of space agencies confirmed their readiness to expand cooperation with China. “We are all for it,” said Popovkin. “We need to conduct the dialogue with China,” agreed with him head of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Steve MacLean who has recently visited Beijing. He admitted that the Chinese space program has made a strong impression on him.

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