Space will be affected by the Russian war in Ukraine. The European Space Agency (ESA), which was scheduled to launch a joint mission with Russia in September from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, has halted the operation. Yesterday’s and today’s meetings in Paris saw the ESA Governing Council make the unanimous decision to cancel ExoMars 20,22, deeming it impossible to continue cooperation with Roscosmos (the Russian space agency) after the invasion by Ukraine.

In a statement, the management of the supranational organisation stated that it regrets the “human victims” and “tragic consequences” of Ukraine’s aggression. He also stated that the organization fully supports the sanctions imposed by its member countries on Russia, despite any “impact” it might have on space exploration.

This policy has led to the suspension of ExoMars’ launch, which was originally scheduled for September. In it, the European rover Rosalind Benjamin was expected to reach the red planet. Josef Aschbacher has been instructed by the ESA’s governing body to take “appropriate steps to suspend cooperation activities with Russia” and to “conduct an accelerated industrial analysis to better determine the options for performing the mission.”

ExoMars, an ESA/ Roscosmos exploration program, consists of two missions. In 2016, the first mission launched. It orbits Mars and aims to discover the origin of Martian methane. The second, which is now suspended, was to be the star of Rosalind Franklin’s off-roader. Her flight was to depart Baikonur to land on Mars aboard Kazachok (a Russian landing platform) to search for traces and evidence of past and current life.

The ESA assured that the International Space Station (ISS), in which Americans, Russians, and Europeans collaborate, will continue as normal. The agency stated that the main goal was to maintain safe operations of ISS, including the safety of crew members. It has not made any reference to Dmitry Rogozin, Roscomos director, threatening to drop the orbital platform. The engines are located in the Russian Segment.

In the next few weeks, the director general of ESA will call an extraordinary meeting of its Governing Council to discuss alternative options in all activities that have been affected by the conflict in Ukraine.