Russia suspends Soyuz missile launches over European sanctions

Russian space agency Roscosmos has announced that it is temporarily suspending Soyuz rocket launches in French Guiana due to sanctions imposed by the European Union, according to a report by space.com

“Roscosmos is suspending cooperation with European partners in organizing space launches from the Kourou Cosmodrome and is withdrawing its personnel, including the consolidated launch crew, from French Guiana,” a translated tweet of the desk reads on Twitter. Roscosmos says: it is working on a plan to withdraw all 87 employees from the Guyana Space Center in Kourou, which assisted in launching Soyuz rockets for Roscosmos and other Russian companies.

Such as space.com points out that European launch provider Arianespace is using Roscosmo’s Soyuz rockets to launch satellites from French Guiana and the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Arianespace was on track to launch two Galileo satellites into Earth orbit in April using a Soyuz rocket, but that will likely be delayed due to rising tensions between countries. The US and Europe have imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, and have also taken steps to exclude some Russian banks from SWIFT.

“I confirm that this decision does not affect the continuity and quality of Galileo and Copernicus services,” said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Space, in a statement. “This decision also does not jeopardize the further development of these infrastructures.”

Russia and Europe are preparing for a robotic mission to Mars that will take place this year. Josef Aschbacher, director of the European Space Agency, says that “ESA continues to work on all its programmers, including the launch campaign of ISS and EXOMars”, but “will continue to monitor the changing situation”.

In addition to temporarily cutting ties with Arianespace, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin has decided to exclude the US from a joint mission to explore Venus called Venera-D. early Saturday morning, Rogozin said: he considers “the continued participation of the United States” in Russia’s Venera-D mission “inappropriate” in light of the sanctions against Russia. Rogozin also claims that these sanctions will ruin relations between Russia and NASA, potentially leading to the demise of the International Space Station.

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