ExoMars’ Chances Improve with Italian, British Pledges

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FARNBOROUGH, England —  The president of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) said July 11 his agency has agreed to invest an additional 50 million euros ($63 million) in Europe’s struggling ExoMars mission, bringing the project that much closer to the amount of money it needs to win approval in November.

ASI President Enrico Saggese said that Italy remains fully committed to ExoMars despite Italy’s difficult budget situation as the nation struggles to bring down debt.

Saggese’s comments came a day after Britain’s space minister, David Willets, said the British government — whose support for ExoMars is viewed as indispensable — is satisfied that the new ExoMars mission architecture is credible and would be supported by Britain.

In an interview at the Farnborough Air Show outside London, Saggese said that with Italy’s fresh commitment and possible funding increases from Germany and Switzerland, he is optimistic that the two-launch ExoMars effort will win final approval from European governments in November.

The 19-nation European Space Agency (ESA) has already spent some 480 million euros on ExoMars. Full mission approval awaits a meeting of ESA government ministers in November.

By that time, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, is expected to have signed an agreement providing a Proton launch of ESA’s Juice mission to Jupiter’s moons in 2022. ESA hopes to funnel much of the savings to ExoMars.

 

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