MOSCOW, July 13. /TASS/. The European Space Agency (ESA) chief notified Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos of a decision to terminate cooperation under the ExoMars-2022 mission over the complex geopolitical situation and the sides are working on options of returning national equipment to Russia and Europe, the Roscosmos press office announced on Wednesday.
"On July 12, 2022, the ESA director general notified the state corporation Roscosmos in compliance with a decision by the European Space Agency (ESA) Council of member states that ESA had terminated bilateral cooperation under the ExoMars-2022 mission due to the complex geopolitical situation," the press office said in a statement.
All the equipment will be returned to the parties concerned, Roscosmos said.
"Specialists of the state corporation Roscosmos and ESA are now working on the options of returning Russian equipment located on EU territory to the Russian Federation and the European equipment located on Russia’s soil to ESA," it said.
ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher announced on his Twitter on Tuesday that the Council of Ministers of the European Space Agency had decided to terminate cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars mission.
For its part, Roscosmos said that Russia could implement its part of the project at the national level or with the involvement of partners from friendly countries. Roscosmos Head Dmitry Rogozin announced that Russia’s crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) would stop using the European ERA manipulator arm in response to ESA’s refusal to cooperate on the ExoMars project. He also stressed that Roscosmos would take all efforts to return from Italy the Russian Kazachok Martian lander prepared for the ExoMars mission.
Mars exploration project
ExoMars is a joint Mars exploration 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 expected 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.