ESA has named the Oxia Planum region as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 Mars mission. The Russo-European mission to the Red Planet is the second of two missions of the ExoMars program and is aimed at demonstrating new technologies and seeking signs of past or present life. Consisting of a lander and rover, the mission is scheduled to launch in May 2018 with a landing in January 2019.
A Russian-made Soyuz
TMA-17M blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome last night, as it undertook a journey to the
International Space Station. Aboard the spacecraft was NASA astronaut
Kjell Lindgren, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut
Oleg Kononenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
astronaut Kimiya Yui. The initial launch
proceeded without incident, with the rocket successfully reaching preliminary staging orbit. However,
soon after reaching space it became apparent that the spacecraft's
port solar array had failed to open.
Following the recent loss of the Russian Progress 59 cargo ship, NASA and its partners in the station have agreed to reshuffle future launches based on preliminary investigations by the Russian Federal Space Agency.