The second stage of the ExoMars (Exobiology on Mars) mission will be rescheduled from 2018 to 2020, the Russian state corporation Roscosmos has said.
The management of Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) have discussed the current situation and, bearing in mind the results of the work done by the Tiger Team, an expert group involving specialists from Roscosmos, ESA, as well as the Russian and European industrial contractors, and recommendations issued by JESB, the Roscosmos-ESA joint managing council for the ExoMars project, have decided to postpone this Mars-bound mission until the next launch window in July 2020, the Russian state corporation said in a report. The sides also instructed their groups of developers to draw up a new baseline work schedule jointly with the industrial contractors.
Further, a series of additional measures will also be taken to strictly oversee both sides' course of work over the period up to the launch.
Roscosmos also said that members of the Tiger Team had presented their final report detailing engineering study results at a JESB session, which took place in Moscow.
"Assessing the possibility of creating conditions for the successful implementation of the project, the JESB council came to a conclusion that, given delays in work implementation by European and Russian industrial contractors and [delays] during mutual deliveries of scientific equipment, the most optimal decision is to conduct this launch in 2020," it said.
The second ExoMars mission includes a Russian landing platform and a European Mars rover, which are also expected to be carried by a Proton-M launch vehicle, which will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Roscosmos said.
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"Russian and European specialists made every effort in order to meet the schedule for the second ExoMars mission, set for launch in 2018. At the end of 2015, a specially formed group of experts, Tiger Team, started to examine possible solutions that would help offset delays and envisage a reserve period within this schedule," it said.
It was reported that the first stage of ExoMars, a joint project of Roscosmos and ESA, successfully began on March 14, 2016, when a Proton-M launch vehicle, which blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, lifted the ExoMars-2016 research spacecraft, consisting of two modules - Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (Schiaparelli) into space. Russian and European experts' success as part of the ExoMars-2016 mission is a result of their lengthy and productive work. The ExoMars-2016 spacecraft is expected to reach Mars in October 2016.
The successful implementation of all stages of the ExoMars project will allow the Russian and European sides to jointly test advanced technologies for entering the atmosphere, handling a descent and landing on Mars and operating space equipment on Mars, as well as will help them develop new technical solutions and design service systems that may be used in other projects to study planets of the Solar System and conduct cutting-edge scientific research on Mars.