ExoMars will likely miss 2018 launch date


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Because of technical and financial issues the European/Russian ExoMars rover mission is expected to miss its 2018 launch window.

The main reason for the delay would be the ExoMars’ brand-new landing system, which is designed to safely take the rover through a fiery descent in the Martian atmosphere and then softly land it on the surface of the Red Planet.

In addition to its late development start, the landing system has a complicated share of responsibilities between Russia and Europe, which greatly slows down the work. For example, the overall landing system is being developed by NPO Lavochkin in Moscow, while its parachute system will be provided by Europe. Many other aspects of the mission are similarly intertwined.

To further complicate matters, NPO Lavochkin, which traditionally builds all Russian planetary probes, but also some of the highly classified military satellites, is notorious for its Soviet-style secrecy. As a result, it is harder for the two sides to coordinate the work, Europeans sources said. Finally, the translation of documents between Russian and English further delays the work on the project.

The program is also significantly over budget.

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One comment

  • Competential

    ESA and Russia cooperate on the Jupiter moon JUICE mission for the 2030’s too. The Russians may contribute a Ganymede lander. There are many years for that mission to be politically obstructed. International cooperation between governments is not a simple gain of economies of scale. It is a multiplication of the costs, delays and insecurity of bureaucracy (which should be spelled: bureau-crazy). Inter-governmental cooperation is nothing but an added opportunity for even more politicians to hold the sunk mission investment ransom by veto in order to extort more money from the other part.

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