The European Space Agency and Roscosmos are going to postpone their collaborated 2018 launch of the second phase of the ExoMars mission until things calm down a bit internally. Delays have been pushing back the original ETA, and now the ESA says it’s taking a toll on the estimated dates.
As explained by the ESA in a public statement, a recent report revealed that the mission was not yet ready for prime time and that a delay until the next available launch opportunity in July of 2020 would be the best and most reliable solution for getting the mission to touch ground on the red planet.
It is worth noting that the ESA did most of the work in creating the rover itself, while Roscosmos is responsible for the platform that will deliver it to the red planet’s surface.
The mission will search the red planet for signs of alien life, collecting samples along the way for analysis. The mission also allows Russia to perfect its rocket technology for future missions that may involve the red planet, which is of major interest as of late due to the fact that everyone seems to want to put human feet on the red planet in the next few decades.
The idea is to get the ExoMars phase 2 system to be as stable as possible before launching it because it would be a huge disappointment, waste of time, and waste of money to launch the system incompletely or without the proper functioning equipment to get the job done.
When it comes to expensive space equipment, you want everything to go right the first time, not to malfunction halfway into the mission, and that’s why a delay makes the most sense right now in lieu of pushed back ETAs. Cutting corners to meet a deadline just isn’t feasible.
The delays aren’t a huge disappointment, as the additional two years isn’t too long of a wait and will give the teams more time to perfect the project as to avoid delays.
Source: ESA via The Verge