Takeoff was scheduled for July 2020, arriving at the Red Planet in March 2021. The decision was made after consideration by space agencies.
The ExoMars mission, organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, has been postponed to 2022. The decision was taken so that the team can carry out further tests and ensure the flight is successful.
In the last year, project planning has suffered some disruption after two parachute tests failed. In addition, the two companies acknowledge that “the final phase of ExoMars’ activities was compromised by the general worsening of the epidemiological situation in European countries”, referring to Covid-19.
The main objective of the mission is to determine if there was life on Mars and to better understand the history of water on the planet. For this, the Rosalind Franklin rover includes a drill to access the planet’s sub-surface, as well as a miniature life research laboratory maintained in an ultra-clean zone.
“We made a difficult but thoughtful decision. This is mainly driven by the need to maximize the robustness of all ExoMars systems, in addition to circumstances of force majeure related to the exacerbation of the epidemiological situation in Europe that left our specialists unable to proceed with travel to partner industries,” said General Dmitry Rogozin, director of Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, in a statement.
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The new schedule foresees a launch between August and October 2022. In the previous calendar, the rover was estimated to take off in July 2020 and arrive on Mars in March 2021. “We want to make ourselves 100% sure of a successful mission. We cannot allow ourselves any margin of error. More verification activities will ensure a safe trip and the best scientific results on Mars,” says Jan Wörner, director of the European Space Agency.