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Monday, May 5, 2003

NASA and Russia to Pursue Joint Mars Exploration

Mars 1 launcher.
Mars 1 launcher.
Credit: RKK Energia
The United States space agency and Rosaviakosmos, its Russian counterpart, announced today that they would pursue a joint program to explore Mars through unmanned probes. Although details are not yet available, the plan seems similar to one Russia has been looking for for years. This other plan involved the use of Russian rockets to launch NASA spacecraft to Mars. Many observers have considered it the only realistic way for Russia to pursure Martian exploration in light of its deteriorating funding situation.

It is of interest to note that in the last twenty Russian missions to Mars, sixteen have suffered a major failure. The last attempted Russian launch to Mars was in 1996, which resulted in the loss of a large European Union science payload. Despite this, Russia's launch systems are highly developed and stable, with a very good track record.

(More info: BBC News, Russian Space Web)

- posted by Brian @ 22:30 EST