A Russian space rocket carrying a European Space Agency probe bound for Mars completed a successful lift-off yesterday.
The Proton-M rocket left its launchpad at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome and delivered the Exomars probe into a holding orbit around the Earth. The probe, which consists of a Mars-orbiting satellite and a prototype landing vehicle, set off on its seven-month journey to the Red Planet early this morning. The two-phase mission is the first Mars expedition explicitly intended to search for traces of life. Its second phase is slated for 2018.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has also contributed to the mission by designing several scientific instruments and developing a landing system for the 2018 Mars rover. Roscosmos’ involvement will provide a much-needed boost for the country’s struggling space sector. “The launch is important because we show that we can fulfill our obligations despite all our troubles in the space industry,” said industry analyst Pavel Luzin.
Source: The Moscow Times