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ESA makes official the split with Russia

At a press conference yesterday officials from the European Space Agency (ESA) officially announced that the partnership with Russia to launch its Franklin rover to Mars has ended, and the launch will not happen in ’22.

The program is not cancelled, but “suspended.” ESA is looking for alternatives to get its Rosalind Franklin rover to the Red Planet. Earth and Mars are correctly aligned for launches only every 26 months, so the next opportunities are in 2024, 2026, and 2028. Aschbacher said it is not feasible to be ready by 2024, so it will be one of the later dates.

Since Russia had been providing both the launch rocket and Mars lander, ESA cannot simply find a different rocket. It needs to come up with its own lander, or find someone else to build it. For example, one of many new private American companies building lunar landers for NASA might be able do it, though ESA would likely prefer a European company. If it did decide to go with an American company, it would certainly not hire one until it succeeds in completing successfully at least one planetary landing.

The officials also outlined ESA’s need to find new launch rockets for many other missions it had planned to launch on Russia’s Soyuz-2 rocket. That need will also be an opportunity for American rocket companies, but more significantly it could be a blessing for Arianespace’s Ariane 6 rocket. The Ariane 6 has struggled to find customers because of its high cost. The loss of Russia as a launch option will likely drive some ESA business to it.

Roscosmos’ head Dmitry Rogozin in turn announced that it will go ahead with its own Mars mission, using the lander on an Angara rocket

“True, we will lose several years, but we will replicate our landing module, make an Angara rocket for it and carry out this research mission from the newly-built Vostochny spaceport on our own. Without inviting any ‘European friends’, who prefer to keep their tails between their legs the moment they hear their American master’s angry voice,” Rogozin said on his Telegram channel.

Whether Russia will actually do this is questionable. For the last two decades Roscosmos has promised all kinds of numerous planetary missions and new rockets and new manned capsules, none of which has ever seen the light of day. To make such a thing happen now seems even more doubtful.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

4 comments

  • sippin_bourbon

    Perhaps, Mr Z, you need to start a new thread of essays.

    “The New Cold War.”

    There will be some that argue after the Ukraine crisis ends, however it ends, that we should return to normal relations. I, personally, am opposed to the notion. And with all the actions taken so far, I cannot see how. But some will try.

    Without wading into the current crisis, I am curious what you and the others think about what comes AFTER this.
    (Note to Questioner that is not an invitation for you to post your opinions or propaganda about what is happening NOW).

  • Gary H

    A bit tangential ..from the Times of London:

    “Three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station last night in flight suits made in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag, in what appeared to be a daring statement against the war.

    Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory yesterday, joining the crew of two Russians, four Americans and one German.”

  • Michael G. Gallagher

    Do I hear the padding of Space X, Electron Rocket, and Relativity Space feet in the background?

  • mpthompson

    I wonder if ESA could persuade SpaceX to resurrect the old Red Dragon plans to land the Franklin Rover on Mars? A Falcon Heavy gets it to Mars and the Dragon capsule propulsively lands it with Draco thrusters. My assumption is the rover could fit within the confines of a Dragon capsule and a hatch/ramp could be fashioned in the capsule side to allow egress for the rover.

    The nice thing about this approach is much of the hardware is pretty much designed and tested. It would mostly be an exercise in software to execute the flight plan.

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