14:44 GMT +315 October 2019
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    The Proton-M rocket, carrying the ExoMars 2016 spacecraft to Mars, blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, March 14, 2016

    Euro-Russian Mission to Mars 'a Response to Foolish Political Sanctions'

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    The launch of the first joint ESA-Roscosmos mission to the Red Planet serves partly as a response to the "stupid political" anti-Russian sanctions, according to Alexey Novikov, spokesman for the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Alexey Novikov, spokesman for the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, described the launch of the first joint ESA-Roscosmos mission as a kind of response to the "foolish political" anti-Russian sanctions.

    "This joint mission with the European Space Agency is to some extent a response to those stupid political sanctions that are still in force against Russia," he said.

    He also touted the March 14 launch of the mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as a big success.

    "This project is an international achievement. The European Space Agency has long been working with us constructively, and at least this long-term work has successfully wrapped up," he added.

    Russian professor Yegor Shcheglov, for his part, told Sputnik, that the current mission will add significantly to finding a way to resolve a whole array of challenges that a possible manned mission may face on the Red Planet.

    "Radiation is the most serious hazard in outer space, something that is also in place on Mars. There is no such a strong magnetic field on the Red Planet which could protect people from being affected by radiation," Shcheglov said.

    According to Roscosmos, the main goal of the mission is to find traces of methane in the planet's atmosphere, which would confirm the presence of life on Mars now or in the past, as well as to verify the key technology for the second part of the ExoMars mission, scheduled for 2018.

    The European Space Agency and Roscosmos agreed to develop the ExoMars program in 2012 to investigate the atmosphere of Mars and explore possible traces of life on the Red Planet.

    Monday's orbital probe launch is expected to be followed by a Mars rover probe in 2018.


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