MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. Russia’s crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) will stop using the European ERA manipulator arm in response to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) refusal from cooperation on the ExoMars project, CEO of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday.
"In my turn, I instruct our ISS crew to stop using the European Robotic Arm (ERA). Let [ESA Director General Josef] Aschbacher along with his boss [EU foreign policy chief Josep] Borrell fly to space and do at least something useful in their entire lives," he wrote on his Telegram channel.
ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher wrote on his Twitter account earlier on Tuesday that the ESA Council had decided to suspend cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars program.
"And did this chief of the European Space Agency think that his decision thwarted the labor of thousands of scientists and engineers in Europe and Russia? Is he ready to take responsibility for sabotaging the joint Mars mission? No, not before irresponsible bureaucrats in the European Commission like him. Is he ready to take responsibility before humankind?" Rogozin wrote.
He also stressed that Roscosmos will do its best to return Russia’s Kazachok Mars landing module for the ExoMars mission from Italy.
ExoMars is a joint program of the European Space Agency and Roscosmos consisting of two projects - the ExoMars TGO orbiter and the Rosalind Franklin rover. The first stage of the ExoMars project was launched in March 2016. The mission was comprised of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator module, which landed on Mars in October 2016.
The ExoMars 2nd stage envisaged sending the Russian landing platform Kazachok and a European rover to the Red Planet. The mission’s 2nd stage was supposed to focus on drilling and analyzing Martian soil in search for potential traces of organic life. The second stage was initially scheduled to be launched in 2018, but was postponed to 2020 and later to 2022. ESA planned to launch the mission from September 20 to October 1 from the Baikonur spaceport with the use of a Proton-M carrier rocket with a Briz-M booster.