Leaked files expose Russia's problems with the Mars mission

While the Russian space agency Roscosmos says it will go to Mars on its own, leaked documents paint a different picture.

Internal Roscosmos files stolen by Ukraine's GURMO Cyber Unit show bureaucratic roadblocks and design flaws in the joint Russian-European Mars mission.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia's Roscosmos were supposed to send a European rover to the Red Planet using a Russian launcher later this year.

However, the mission, dubbed ExoMars, hit a roadblock after Russia invaded Ukraine last month. ESA suspended the cooperation because of the conflict and the Western sanctions that followed it.

"We deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognizing the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia," the agency said.

Reacting to ESA's decision, Roscosmos' head Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia would carry out the research expedition independently.

ExoMars rover testing. Image by ESA.

Inter-agency problems

Even though in an interview to Russia's RT service Rogozin said Europeans could not solve mission-related technical problems, leaked documents show Roscosmos had issues of their own.

According to a blog post by Jeff Carr, internationally-known cybersecurity advisor, documents obtained by the GURMO Offensive Cyber team in their recent breach of Roscosmos show the Russian space agency numerous delays in the project.

A leaked presentation shows organizations behind the project had a difficult time cooperating.

Lavochkin, a state-owned defense, and civilian aerospace company and the main contractor for ExoMars, complained about the conduct of Information Satellite Systems (ISS), a company behind the Russian GPS, the GLONASS.

Carr writes that Lavochkin was unhappy with the 'lack of responsiveness' from ISS regarding a severe problem with the Rover's microbiological control and manufacturing delays for other systems.

Another document showed Russia's Space Research Institute running into funding problems for the ExoMars mission, citing inter-agency bureaucracy as a key obstacle.

Other leaked documents shed light on why the Schiaparelli lander, a part of the ExoMars mission, crashed on the Red Planet in 2016.

The Red Planet. Image by Shutterstock.

Russian invasion

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, kicking off a war all over the country.

In light of the attack, the hacker community started rallying to help Ukrainians. With Anonymous being the most prominent one, numerous hacker groups and researchers partake in various campaigns to help Ukraine.

Cyber activists targeted Russian government websites, Russian state-controlled media outlets TASS, Kommersant, Izvestia, Fontanka, and RBC, pushing them offline. Russian carrier Aeroflot and major lender Sberbank were also experiencing outages and access issues.

Russian nuclear agency Rosatom and the country's space agency Roscosmos were allegedly breached by hacktivists protesting the war in Ukraine.

The German branch of the Anonymous collective also claims to have stolen 20 terabytes of data from the German arm of Rosneft, Russia's state energy company.

Ukrainian authorities reported that over 10 million people were displaced due to the conflict, with over 3.3 million fleeing the country.

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prefix 2 years ago
Joe Biden don't no what planet he is on.
Julius Rosen
prefix 2 years ago
Compare the Russian space agencies to NASA and you'll find virtually the same things. But at least we are transparent in the budgeting process. The US gives to large contractors the bulk of the entire budget every year and freezes out most small companies
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