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Europe and Russia delay mission to find life on Mars

Christian Fernsby ▼ | March 13, 2020
A joint Russian-European expedition to find life on Mars has been postponed for two years, the Russian and European space agencies said yesterday, citing coronavirus and multiple technical issues.
Dmitry Rogozin
Technology   Dmitry Rogozin
The unmanned ExoMars, whose mission is to land a robot on the Red Planet to seek out signs of life, was scheduled to launch later this year after experiencing several delays. But even that has proved too difficult.

"We have made a difficult but well weighed decision to postpone the launch to 2022," said Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia's Roscosmos agency.

Officials at the European and Russian spaces agencies said they agreed to delay the mission until August or September 2022 to carry out further tests.

Following recommendations by European and Russian inspectors, "ExoMars experts concluded that the tests necessary to make all the components of the spacecraft fit for the Mars adventure need more time to complete," the statement said.

European Space Agency director general Jan Worner said both sides wanted to be "100 percent" 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," he said in a statement that did not mention the virus.