The European Space Agency says it will team up with Russia’s space agency with the goal of launching the first manned mission to Mars.
ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said his agency and Roskosmos will “carry out the first flight to Mars together,” Britain’s Daily Mail reported Friday.
Dordain made the remarks while attending an air show at Zhukovsky, near Moscow. No timetable was announced and no details were given of whose spacecraft the proposed mission would utilize.
The announcement came as cosmonauts of the Mars500 project complete 442 days of a�virtual journey to the red planet — actually going nowhere as they remain in isolation in a Russian facility meant to simulate the cramped quarters of an actual Mars mission.
The Mars500 simulated mission is scheduled to end in 78 days.
Roskosmos and the ESA will face competition, as NASA is expected to go ahead with building a new generation of spacecraft capable of deep space missions, with flights into low Earth orbit outsourced to private firms following the shutdown of the U.S. space shuttle program.