Artist’s concept of the ExoMars rover, which will be equipped with a drill to collect the first samples from the subsurface of Mars. Credit: ESA

European states accept Russia as ExoMars partner

Posted: November 21, 2012

One year after NASA pulled out of the project, European governments have agreed to a partnership with Russia on the ExoMars mission, which aims to send the next rover to Mars in 2018, according to European Space Agency officials.

Before a two-day conference in Naples, Italy, European government ministers approved a draft agreement between the European Space Agency and Roscosmos – the Russian space agency – on a joint robotic Mars exploration campaign.

“I can say this agreement is now in force,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s director general.

The final agreement between ESA and Roscosmos is yet to be signed, but it could come before the end of the year or in early 2013.

The dual-mission ExoMars project includes a Mars orbiter and small stationary lander set to launch in January 2016, and a rover scheduled for liftoff in April 2018. Russian Proton launchers will give a lift to both mission

Read more: Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | European states accept Russia as ExoMars partner.

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