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European Space Agency Suspends Cooperation With Russia on ExoMars Mission Over Ukraine Invasion

Artist’s impression of ESA’s ExoMars rover (foreground) and Russia’s science platform (background) on Mars. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

As an intergovernmental organization mandated to develop and implement space programs in full respect with European values, we deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognizing the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States.

ExoMars

ESA’s ruling Council, meeting in Paris on March 16-17, assessed the situation arising from the war in Ukraine regarding ExoMars, and unanimously:

  • acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022, and mandated the ESA Director General to take appropriate steps to suspend the cooperation activities accordingly;
  • authorized the ESA Director General to carry out a fast-track industrial study to better define the available options for a way forward to implement the ExoMars rover mission.

Space Transportation

Following the decision by Roscosmos to withdraw their personnel from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, all missions scheduled for launch by Soyuz have been put on hold. These concern essentially four institutional missions for which ESA is the launch service procurement entity (Galileo M10, Galileo M11, Euclid and EarthCare) and one additional institutional launch.

Consequently, the ESA Director General has initiated an assessment on potential alternative launch services for these missions, which will include a review of the Ariane 6 first exploitation flights. A robust launch manifest for ESA missions’ launch needs, including for spacecraft originally planned for launch by Soyuz from Kourou, will be submitted to Member States.

The International Space Station

The International Space Station Programme continues to operate nominally. The main goal is to continue safe operations of the ISS, including maintaining the safety of the crew.

Way forward

Based on a first analysis of technical and programmatic impacts on all other activities affected by the war in Ukraine, the Director General intends to convene an extraordinary session of Council in the coming weeks to submit specific proposals for decision by Member States.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organization, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia, Latvia, and Lithuania are Associate Members.

ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programs under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programs and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programs as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.

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