Obama Retreats, Russia Steps In
November 22, 2012 Leave a comment
UPDATE: December 6, 2012 Expert panel: NASA seems lost in space, needs goal
Despite economic problems, Europeans realise the importance of space exploration.
“Europe and Russia are cementing their plans to explore Mars together.
European Space Agency member states have approved the agreement that would see Russia take significant roles in Red Planet missions in 2016 and 2018.
The former is a satellite that will look for methane and other trace gases in the atmosphere; the latter will be a surface rover.
Russian participation fills a void left by the Americans who pulled back from the projects earlier this year.
For a while, it looked as though the ventures, known as ExoMars, might have to be cancelled. But Russian desire to pick up many of the elements dropped by the US means ExoMars is now on a much surer footing.
Esa member states indicated their happiness with the cooperation text on Monday. All that remains is for the documentation to be signed by both parties.
This is likely to happen before the end of the year.”
Russia and Europe joint Mars bid agreement approved
“European Space Agency (Esa) member states have resolved key issues at their ministerial council and agreed a 10.1bn-euro programme of activities.
The big decisions included a go-ahead for an upgrade on Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket in parallel with design work on a replacement for the early 2020s.
Esa nations also approved the project to provide the propulsion unit for Nasa’s new manned capsule, Orion.
In the surprise of the meeting, even the UK put money into this project.
It has long stayed out of the agency’s human spaceflight activities, but agreed to a one-off, 20m-euro contribution because of the technology development it could enable in a number of British companies.
“We’re confident our interests will be reflected,” UK science minister David Willetts said.
Most of the meeting’s agenda had been worked out in advance. Great uncertainty however had remained over how much the 20 nations could commit to space in the midst of the Eurocrisis.
With that context in mind, Esa director-general Jean Jacques Dordain expressed great satisfaction at the outcome.
“Member states recognise that space is not an expense; it’s an investment,” he said.”
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