EU announces cessation of missions to Moon with Russia

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European Commission has imposed many economic sanctions on the Russian state and its oligarchs; the bloc has gone a step further and suspended its space cooperation with Russia for planned missions to the Moon.

In March, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced it would be suspending the Russian- European exploration mission to Mars named ExoMars because of the war in Ukraine.

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On Wednesday, it said it would also be suspending its cooperation with Russia for the three planned lunar exploration missions for the same reason.

“The Russian aggression against Ukraine and the resulting sanctions represent a fundamental change of circumstances and make it impossible for ESA to implement the planned lunar cooperation,” an ESA statement read.

The agency is now turning to other partners to cooperate with for its Luna-25, -26 and -27 missions, which are part of the lunar programme of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the space agency’s Director-General initiated a “comprehensive review of all activities currently undertaken in cooperation with Russia and Ukraine” to determine the possible consequences of “this new geopolitical context for ESA programmes” and to create a more “resilient and robust space infrastructure for Europe.”

Luna-25 became the first Russian spacecraft in Moscow’s new lunar programme. The Luna-26 mission includes an orbiter exploring landing sites on the Moon, while Luna-27 is a lunar lander to land on an unexplored Earth’s natural satellite area.

The Artist’s impression of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) ‘s Lunar Pathfinder satellite will provide communications services around the Moon.

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ESA would test its instruments on those missions but is now looking for alternatives.

The Prospect drill, which would be used for Luna-27, could be tested on a commercial mission of the American NASA.

For Pilot-D’s terrain navigation system, which would be tested in the Luna-25 mission, ESA is still looking for a new flight option.

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