launch of the second ExoMars mission was initially planned for
July or August of this year. But the two space agencies said
they were now postponing its launch until a date between August
and October 2022.
"...The parties had to recognize that the final phase of ExoMars
activities are compromised by the general aggravation of the
epidemiological situation in European countries," Roscosmos, the
Russian space agency, said in a statement.
The mission plans to place a rover vehicle, the Rosalind
Franklin, on the surface of the red planet to help scour it for
signs of past life.
The agencies said the decision to postpone had been a tough one,
but had been motivated by the need for extra time to carry out
Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, said engineers
were struggling to travel to manufacturing locations involved in
the project due to travel restrictions introduced to try to stop
the spread of the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh, Maria Kiselyova and Tom Balmforth
in Moscow and by Marine Strauss in Brussels; Editing by Andrew
Osborn and Jonathan Oatis)
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