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The new colonial movement: In a documentary released this week Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged that his country will send an unmanned mission to Mars in 2019, and that it will be aimed at studying water at the red planet’s poles.
This is funny. Putin is likely referring to ExoMars 2020, which Russia is partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA). In that mission, Russia is providing the rocket and the descent and landing technology for ESA’s rover. To claim that this is a Russian mission is a bit of an over-statement, since the only Mars-related equipment Russia is building involves the landing, and the ESA is also participating in that work.
Nonetheless, Putin’s words here illustrate how the competition is heating up. Every nation wants its share of the exploration of the solar system, and they are beginning to ramp up their efforts to make that happen.