Russia will start work on its own Mars mission given that the European Space Agency (ESA) has suspended a joint project in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, Interfax news agency quoted a top official as saying on Friday.
The ESA announced on Thursday that it would be impossible to continue cooperating with Russia on the ExoMars mission. A Russian rocket had been due to transport a European-made rover to Mars later this year.
"In the very near future we will start working on the implementation of a mission to Mars," said Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roskosmos, Russia's space agency.
Interfax quoted him as saying he did not think a rover would necessarily be needed since Russia's existing landing module, which is designed to transport the rover, would be able to carry out the required scientific work.
Rogozin said there were "big doubts" about what the ESA could do without Russia, which already had a rocket, a launch site and the landing module. The ESA would need at least six years to develop its own module, he said.
In response to sanctions Roskosmos has already suspended cooperation with Europe on space launches and announced it would stop supplying rocket engines to the United States.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Alistair Bell)