Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Funding for Delayed ExoMars Mission Uncertain

European Space Agency Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner on May 9 expressed frustration with the equipment delays that forced a two-year slip in the launch of Europe’s ExoMars rover vehicle and said he would not write a blank check to keep the mission alive.

Addressing a briefing here, where he was attending ESA’s Living Planet Earth observation symposium, Woerner said he still did not fully understood why the project could not make its 2018 launch date. He wondered whether it is possible to have those responsible for the delay finance part of its cost.

“I was not only surprised, I was frustrated with this delay, which was for technical reasons on both the European and Russian sides,” Woerner said, adding that at first he did not accept it.

“I was fighting like hell” to keep the mission on schedule despite indications that multiple pieces of equipment would not make it in time for the launch, he said. “I’m very upset about it and I don’t understand it from a certain point of view.”

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