ESA, Roscosmos ExoMars Joint Mission Delayed Until 2022 Over Coronavirus

Коронавирус помешал миссию на Марс отложили на 2 года

Коронавирус помешал миссию на Марс отложили на 2 года

The Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced on Thursday that its joint mission with the European Space Agency (ESA), ExoMars-2020, has been rescheduled for 2022 because of the coronavirus.

"We have made a hard but well-weighed decision to postpone the launch to 2022". Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin also said that due to the coronavirus outbreak in Europe the experts cannot proceed with travels to partner industries. "More verification activities will ensure a safe trip and the best scientific results on Mars", Jan Wörner, the ESA director general said.

Worldwide, more than 118,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus and almost 4,300 people have died, a lot of them in China, where the disease originated.

More testing of the spacecraft's final hardware and software needs to be completed before launch.

Artist's impression of the Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover. "We can not allow ourselves any margin of error".

The mission plans to place a rover vehicle, the Rosalind Franklin, on the surface of the red planet to help scour it for signs of past life.

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"I want to thank the teams in industry that have been working around the clock for almost a year to complete assembly and environmental testing of the whole spacecraft".

The ExoMars mission was slated to launch this summer, so a total delay of two years may sound drastic, but it's all due to the nature of the planetary orbits.

It is the latest setback for the ExoMars program, which saw the launch of an orbiter and a test lander in 2016.

The descent component has actually been undertaking propulsion system certification in the previous month. The ExoMars descent module and landing platform have been undergoing environmental testing in Cannes, France, to confirm the spacecraft is ready to endure the harsh conditions of space on its journey to Mars. As we reported earlier this year, the project was facing a number of technical hurdles, and time was running short to sort them out before a convenient launch window for Mars closed. For example, it wants to perform additional testing on the all-important parachutes created to slow the descent of the rover as it enters Mars' atmosphere at speeds of up to 13,000 miles per hour.

The wanderer's key element is the capacity to bore down two meters beneath the Martian surface, a profundity at which fluid water is bound to be found and which would be to some degree protected from the brutal radiation that washes the Martian surface.

While the outbreak of coronavirus Covid-19 has not directly impacted the launch delay, it has meant the movement of those working on the rover has been limited in recent days.

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