European Space Agency puts Russia out of its orbit

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced it has taken a decision to stop cooperation with Russia on its missions Luna-25, Luna-26 and Luna-27, ESA said in a statement on Wednesday, reported news agency TASS.

“ESA’s Director General has initiated a comprehensive review of all activities currently undertaken in cooperation with Russia and Ukraine,” the statement says.

In particular, “ESA will discontinue cooperative activities with Russia on Luna-25, -26 and -27.”

“As with ExoMars,” Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and “the resulting sanctions put in place represent a fundamental change of circumstances and make it impossible for ESA to implement the planned lunar cooperation,” the document says, adding that other flight opportunities are being considered.

Earlier, ESA considered it impossible to continue cooperation on ExoMars, the Russian-European Mars exploration mission.

“Although all the elements of the ExoMars Rover mission (the launcher, carrier module, descent module and Rosalind Franklin rover) have now passed their flight readiness reviews, because cooperation with Roscosmos on ExoMars has been suspended, the mission will not be launched in September this year,” the statement says.

On February 24, US President Joe Biden said that the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies on Moscow over Ukraine would hit Russia’s high-tech sector as well as its space program. According to Biden, Washington will cut off more than half of high-tech imports to Russia.

The European Union imposed sanctions on the space rocket center Progress. The European Space Agency later said the chances of launching the ExoMars mission were very slim due to the anti-Russian sanctions. Also, the ESA said it was considering the possibility of using European rockets for orbiting satellites that, according to original plans, were to be launched by Russia’s Soyuz rockets. Germany has turned off its telescope installed on the space observatory Spektr-RG, which is a joint project with Russia.

Roscosmos Director-General Dmitry Rogozin said the Russian space corporation would weather the sanctions with minimal damage since it had been prepared for them in advance.

[TASS]