Mar 17, 2022 - World

European Space Agency suspends Mars rover mission over Ukraine invasion

People working on European Space Agency's ExoMars rover in 2019.

The European Space Agency's ExoMars rover in 2019. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

The European Space Agency suspended its Mars rover mission on Thursday in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, after Russia's state-run space agency halted its operations at Europe's spaceport.

Why it matters: ESA's ExoMars rover mission, Europe's first-ever rover mission to the Red Planet to search for signs of life, was set to launch from Guiana Space Centre aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket this year.

  • "While recognising the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States," the space agency said.

Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, stopped all Soyuz rocket launches from Europe's spaceport in February in protest of sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

  • ESA said the halt affects four other planned satellite missions in addition to ExoMars.

The big picture: Roscosmos's actions in response to sanctions have damaged space relations between Russia and Europe and further frayed relations with the U.S.

  • Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin has repeatedly warned that Russia will no longer cooperate with the U.S. on the International Space Station and has threatened to allow the station to go into an "uncontrolled deorbit" if sanctions aren't lifted.

Go deeper: Moscow's Ukraine invasion further frays U.S.-Russia space relations

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