Member states of the European Space Agency (ESA), the second organization to launch expeditions on Mars, after U.S. Space Agency NASA, has ratified the agreement which makes Russia an important participant of the project.
The decision comes after a short-time crisis which has put the project, named ExoMars, in a certain danger, All Voices
With the U.S. withdrawing from the project at the beginning of this year, its success became fairly questionable, until Russia manifested its interest for the planned missions on the Red Planet.
The last step needed for an absolute confirmation of the partnership is both parties' official paper signature, which is predicted to happen by the end of the year.
Russia is to take part in the missions planned for 2016 and 2018. The first one implies a methane searching satellite and second, a surface rover.
ESA officials suggest their collaboration with Russia is likely to go beyond Martian missions, with a possible agreement on expeditions to Jupiter, if the former turns out a successful experiment.
“We have other opportunities to consider cooperation—for Jupiter missions, for example. We are initiating discussions to see how we could cooperate on those missions. But this could extend to lunar robotics where we would like to see if we could join forces as well,” declared Frederic Nordlun, ESA leader of international relations.
“Russia already has its Luna-Glob and Luna-Resurs missions, which are already being implemented, but we're considering other opportunities for this in other areas,” he added.
ExoMars project started in 2005, at European ministers' initiative, with a total budget estimated to go up to 1.2bn Euro (1.53bn $).
Only 850m Euro (1,083.29 $) have been assured so far. However, officials trust this fact won't turn into a problem.
The Proton rockets which Russia engages to provide for the space missions will mostly be constructed by Russia industry and with its economical means.