The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Roscosmos Space Corporation have decided to postpone the launch of the second ExoMars mission amid coronavirus outbreak. The ExoMars 'Rosalind Franklin' vehicle was due to launch to the Red Planet in July/August, however, due the unprecedented times and because the engineers weren't able to get the vehicle ready in time the agency decided to postpone the mission.
According to the official site of ESA, the ExoMars experts have concluded that tests necessary to make all components of the spacecraft fit for the Mars adventure need more time to complete. All the hardware is built, but there still remains an intimidating list of outstanding checks that must be completed before the mission is declared flight-ready. Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin also said that due to the coronavirus outbreak in Europe the experts can not proceed with travels to partner industries.
Rogozin said in a statement, “We have made a difficult but well-weighted decision to postpone the launch to 2022. It is driven primarily by the need to maximise the robustness of all ExoMars systems. I am confident that the steps that we and our European colleagues are taking to ensure mission success will be justified and will unquestionably bring solely positive results for the mission implementation”.
ESA Director-General, Jan Wörner, further added, “We want to make ourselves 100% sure of a successful mission. We cannot allow ourselves any margin of error. More verification activities will ensure a safe trip and the best scientific results on Mars”.
ESA Director-General also said that coronavirus was having an impact of the preparations as people from different places of industry in Russia, in Italy and France cannot move easily as in the past. He further added that, therefore, coronavirus is the 'one and the only reason' that has impacted the mission.