Amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ESA chief says that the business with Russia will continue25th Mar 2022
European Space Agency Statement
On 24th February, the world woke up to witness Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Although the US and Europe reacted immediately by placing severe sanctions on Russia, the chief of the European Space Agency said a day later that they would continue to do business with the aggressor country. In a statement, Josef Aschbacher, chief of ESA, said that although they are closely monitoring the events, everything continues to develop as previously planned. This includes the launch of ExoMars rover, Rosalind Franklin. The launch from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is expected this year in September.
This statement, however, didn’t receive approval from the international space industry. Since we are witnessing that Vladimir Putin is unstoppable in his decision to occupy Ukraine, many space industry professionals criticised this reaction of the European Space Agency.
Paul Byrne, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, said in his tweet to the ESA director that this is a mistake and that it is necessary to show the world that the aggressor country cannot participate in the exploration of the solar system.
Jean-Jacques Tortora, director of the European Space Policy Institute, says that for years they managed to operate isolated from the political level. However, in his words, this aggression made it impossible. This will be a total game-changer, according to him.
The UK Space Agency also doesn’t approve of Aschbacher’s statement. UKSA claims that it is necessary to raise questions related to future cooperation with Russia.