The head of the European Space Agency (ESA), Josef Aschbacher, believes that it is necessary to discuss with Roscosmos the issue of returning equipment for the ExoMars mission. The organizations planned to jointly explore Mars in order to find evidence of the existence of life there in the past and present.
Due to the events in Ukraine, the ESA ruling council found it impossible to further cooperate with Roscosmos and on March 17, 2022 suspended the implementation of the program. The European agency has said it intends to fully implement the sanctions against Russia. After that, Roscosmos announced that the Russian Federation would be able to implement the Martian mission without the participation of the European agency.
At the same time, most of the equipment for the ExoMars mission is located in Italy, and among it there are Russian components. And the European Space Agency has equipment in Russia. “Europe needs to return its components, and the Russians want to return theirs,” Aschbacher said.
Previously it was reported that Roscosmos and ESA resumed consultations under the ExoMars project, and the launch of the Kazachok landing platform as part of the mission in 2024 is not ruled out, but this requires the consent of the countries participating in the European Space Agency.
In 2016, the ExoMars-2016 automatic interplanetary station was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome under the ExoMars program. The second phase of the project was planned for 2022. It provided for the delivery to Mars of a Russian landing platform with a European rover on board.