ExoMars take-off delayed to 2022

13 March 2020

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Roscosmos Space Corporation decided to postpone, to 2022, the second ExoMars rover launch to the Red Planet.

ExoMars experts concluded that the essencial tests, to make all components of the spacecraft suitable for the Mars mission, need more time. The joint team “ESA-Roscosmos”, responsible for the project, evaluated all the activities necessary for a launch authorization, in order to analyze the risks and the schedule, and decided to postpone the take-off to 2022.

The new schedule foresees a launch between August and October 2022. The celestial mechanics defines that there are relatively short launch windows (10 days), only every two years, in which it is possible for us to reach the “Red Planet”.

The heads of ESA and Roscosmos, Jan Wörner and Dmitry Rogozin, agreed that further testing on the spacecraft is needed, with the final hardware and software. In addition, the parties recognized that the final phase of ExoMars’ activities is being compromised by the general worsening of the epidemiological situation in European countries.

Launching this year would mean the sacrifice of essential tests [and] we want to be 100% sure that it will be a successful mission. We cannot allow any margin of error. More verification activities will ensure a safe trip and the best scientific results on Mars”, said ESA director general Jan Wörner.

“We made a difficult but thoughtful decision to postpone the launch to 2022. This is driven primarily by the need to maximize the robustness of all ExoMars systems and, in addition, to circumstances of force majeure related to the exacerbation of the epidemiological situation in Europe [COVID-19] that left our specialists practically without the possibility to proceed with travels to partner industries. I am confident that the measures we are taking (…) will bring positive results for the implementation of the mission”, said the director of Roscosmos , General Dmitry Rogozin.

ExoMars will be the first mission to look for signs of life at depths up to two meters below the Martian surface, where the biological signs of life can be exceptionally well preserved.

 

Image: ESA/NASA – SOHO/LASCO

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