The European Space Agency (ESA) today announced the termination of its collaboration with its Russian counterpart, Roscosmosfor Moon 25, 26 and 27, three projects aimed at exploring our satellite before humans walk on it again. This is not the first major mission that has been cut short in Europe due to the war in Ukraine. ESA also had to cancel the launch of ExoMarsscheduled for the end of this year. With it, the first European rover would have been placed on Mars, but Russia has broken off its collaboration as a complaint against the sanctions imposed by the European Union.
Since then, many other missions and projects from other countries had to be canceled for the same reason. From the launch of Britain’s OneWeb satellites to Project Icarus, aiming to monitor animal movements from the International Space Station (ISS). Even collaboration with NASA on the latter could suffer the consequences of Russian anger.
But that doesn’t take anything away from the announcement made today by ESA’s Director General, Joseph Ashbacher. The collaboration with Roscosmos has been broken off. Now we will have to look for other alternatives, even if in this case the most affected is not Europe.
Europe will no longer travel to the Moon with Russia
Moon 25, 26 and 27 are three naves, built by Roscosmos and aimed at exploring the Moon in a preliminary stage to the launch of the first manned missions to our satellite.
His outings, on board Soyuz rocketsare – or at least were – planned for the next three years. However, now the situation could change.
This time, it was not Russia that withdrew from a predominantly European project, as in the case of ExoMars. The opposite has happened since the three missions are operated by Russia, either through Roscosmos or the Russian Academy of Sciences. It was expected that ESA would collaborate on tasks such as communications, precision landing, hazard avoidance, drilling, sampling, sample analysis and ground support. This collaboration is the one that is withdrawn after the announcement of Aschbacher, who assured to have taken this decision in compliance with the sanctions imposed by the Union.
Some of the three Russian missions are also supported by other space agencies, such as Chinese (CNSA) and Japanese (JAXA). Now it remains to be seen if they continue. What is clear is that, at least until circumstances change, ESA prefers to fly separately. Literally.
For this, they are already beginning to collaborate with private companies, following in a certain way the steps of NASA and its association with large companies, such as SpaceX. They certainly need it, because the withdrawal of Russian personnel from the European spaceport of Kourou, as well as the veto on the use of Soyuz rockets in certain circumstances, will pose problems for future missions. As much as it has already been for ExoMars.