Saturday, July 25, 2009

ExoMars Slip Confirmed

BBC has an article that confirms the slip of ExoMars to 2018.

The article also has more detail on the emerging roadmap proposal:

2016: European orbiter to follow up on trace gas discoveries and act as communications relay for future missions. A small surface package might be included. NASA to launch.

2018 (a very favorable launch year): ExoMars with NASA's skycrane entry and descent system and a second MER-class rover (presumably from NASA). These rovers could target any areas of methane or other trace gas emissions. NASA to launch.

2020: A joint ESA-NASA network mission.

Editorial Thoughts: This plan makes sense to me. It leverages past investments in technology and gives the designers of the ExoMars mission the chance to learn from the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. A precursor network lander in 2016 also makes sense as it allows a test of technologies and instruments for carrying out seismic studies.

It is disappointing, of course, to have ExoMars delayed until 2018.

Resources: BBC article


  1. Mark my words: In two years this plan will be toast. Cost control is non-existant, and this plan will slowly, ever so slowly, become impossible to afford. Watch. I hope I am wrong, but I bet I am right.

    -Alan Stern

  2. What Dr Stern said.

    And just what is the rest of the world going to be doing during all this?

    G. Clark

  3. Good article. Whatever happened to "Smaller, Faster, Cheaper"? And, remember the Dec 2003 "Aurora roadmap"?
    These are some of the highlights of the current Aurora roadmap:

    * 2007 – an entry vehicle demonstrator mission to validate and demonstrate high-speed re-entry technology
    * 2009 – ExoMars, an exobiology mission to send a rover to Mars in order to search for traces of life – past or present – and characterise the nature of the surface environment.
    * 2011 / 2014 – Mars sample return, a split mission to bring back to Earth the first samples of Martian material
    * 2014 – Human mission technologies demonstrator(s) to validate technologies for orbital assembly and docking, life support and human habitation
    * 2018 – a technology precursor mission to demonstrate aerobraking/aerocapture, solar electric propulsion and soft landing (formerly envisaged as a smaller Arrow-class mission to be launched in 2010)
    * 2024 – a human mission to the Moon to demonstrate key life support and habitation technologies, as well as aspects of crew performance and adaptation and in situ resources utilisation technologies
    * 2026 – an automatic mission to Mars to test the main phases of a human mission to Mars
    * 2030 / 2033 – a split mission that will culminate in the first human landing on Mars