ExoMars-2020 Mission Launch To Be Scheduled In April Next Year - Space Industry Source

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 04th December, 2019) The exact timeframe for the launch of the Russian-European mission ExoMars-2020 will be determined in April of next year, but there is a possibility that the mission will be postponed by two years, a space industry source told Sputnik on Wednesday.

"Starting from January [2020] until March, our European colleagues, with the help of American experts, plan to conduct new tests of the ExoMars-2020 parachute system. Following the results of these tests, a bilateral review conference will be held in April, where the test results will be summarized and a decision will be made on the mission's readiness for launch. In case of a positive decision, the device will be sent to the Baikonur Cosmodrome for launch," the source said.

Currently, the launch of the Proton-M rocket with the ExoMars-2020 mission is planned for July-August 2020. If launched as planned, the ExoMars descent module will land on Mars in March 2021.

The space industry source told Sputnik that if the ExoMars-2020 parachute system tests fail in April next year, the launch of the mission will be postponed by two years, until Mars' orbit comes closest to Earth.

ExoMars is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia's Roscosmos space agency. The 2020 mission will deliver a European Mars rover and a Russian surface platform to the Red Planet. Both the platform and the rover will be transported by a carrier module within a single aeroshell. A descent module will then ensure a controlled landing on the surface of Mars - this is when parachutes will be crucial in ensuring the reduction of speed.