European Space Agency issues update on Russia’s involvement in ISS and Mars missions

The European Space Agency has said it is ready to “take decisions” about its cooperation with Russia on space projects, in a new statement.

The space agency will continue to support those joint missions – which include the International Space Station and the exploration of Mars – for now, said Josef Aschbacher, its director general.

But he noted the increasing aggression in Ukraine and suggested that support could come to an end if the situation continues to deteriorate.

“I am sad and worried as the aggression continues to worsen in Ukraine,” he wrote. “With ESA Member States, we will take any decisions needed.

“But for now, support for our missions & colleagues continues until further notice.”

Mr Aschbacher’s statement is a departure from ESA’s official stance on Thursday, when the space agency said it would continue to cooperate with Russia in all shared space missions. Mr Aschbacher had reiterated that spirit of cooperation in a post to Twitter just hours before issuing the new statement Friday morning.

“Notwithstanding the current conflict, civil space cooperation remains a bridge,” he wrote in the earlier post.

The changing thinking at ESA reflects the rapidly change situation in Ukraine. A Russian invasion that began Thursday with air strikes and armored units crossing the border into Ukraine had reached Kyiv by Friday morning, with reports of Russian tanks and gunfire in the Ukranian Capital.

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