April 07, 2012

Russia joins ESA for exploratory robotic mission to Mars

Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) are set to conduct an ExoMars joint project on Mars exploration.

The head of Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, and Director General of ESA Jean-Jacques Dordain held talks on Russia’s participation in ExoMars and signed a document on cooperation, a spokeswoman for Roscosmos told local media.

“The talks yielded a statement of intent regarding the joint exploratory robotic mission to Mars,” quoted the spokeswoman as saying.

According to the Roscosmos, the two sides would sign a final agreement in November after confirming financial details of the project.

ExoMars, which is currently under development by the ESA, is a robotic mission to Mars for searching possible biosignature of Martian life.

Initially, the project envisaged the launch of a mission to Mars orbit in 2016, followed by landing a ground vehicle in 2018 with the participation of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ESA turned to Russia for support after NASA refused to provide the project with an Atlas-5 rocket as a carrier to deliver a space vehicle to Mars.

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