Russia has threatened to withhold access to a 37-foot-long robotic arm in development for the International Space Station (ISS) due to increasing tension over its Ukraine invasion.
The news follows the European Space Agency (ESA) announcing that it is canceling a mission with Russia. The mission was to send a lander and rover to Mars in September 2022 as part of the ExoMars programme, which began in 2016.
In a Twitter post, ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher said that the mission’s initial suspension has now become an outright cancelation.
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“On a different note, today ESA Council addressed the ExoMars Rover and Surface Platform mission, acknowledging that the circumstances which led to the suspension of the cooperation with Roscosmos – the war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions – continue to prevail.
“As a consequence, Council mandated me to officially terminate the currently suspended cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars Rover and Surface Platform mission. New insights on the way forward with other partners will come at a media briefing on 20 July, details to come,” Aschbacher Tweeted.
In reply, Russian state space agency director Dmitry Rogozin asked on his Telegram page, “Did this head of the European Space Agency think how many thousands of scientists and engineers in Europe and Russia he crossed out with his decision?”
He added that cosmonauts on the ISS should stop working on the robotic arm attached to the space station’s Russian orbital segment.
Tension has been high all around over the conflict in Ukraine, and since the US began turning up the heat via the space programs, things started getting quite shaky just outside our planet as well. If you are worried about the tension, read: Could the International Space Station really crash? – If it did, where would it fall?
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