Russia will begin work on its mission to Mars after the European Space Agency (ESA) halted a joint project after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, a senior official said on Friday, according to the agency.
ESA announced on Thursday that it would be impossible to continue cooperating with Russia on the ExoMars mission. A Russian rocket will carry a European-made space exploration vehicle to Mars this year.
“In the near future, we will begin work on implementing a mission to Mars,” said Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
According to Interfax, he said he did not think a space exploration vehicle would be necessary, as the current Russian lander designed to carry the vehicle would be capable of performing the necessary scientific work.
Rogozin said there were “great doubts” about what ESA could do without Russia, which already has a rocket, launch site and lander. He said ESA would need at least six years to develop its module.
In response to Western-imposed sanctions on Russia, Roscosmos suspended cooperation with Europe on space launches and announced that it would no longer supply rocket engines to the United States.