While India’s first lunar probe zips through the stratosphere toward glory, the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Rover will look on jealously from the ground, which is where it will be for at least the next eight years after the mission, scheduled for 2013, was pushed back three more years. The reason behind this latest postponement is the same behind the recent dulling of ambitious projects worldwide – money, money, money.

Since it’s inception as a simple, bare bones mission to the Red Planet, the ExoMars Rover has been run through a space version of Pimp My Ride, acquiring advanced labarotory capabilities to analyze the martian environment, as well as a drill to take deeper core samples. All these bells and whistles have caused the cost of the project to balloon from an initial estimate of 650 million euros to 1.2 billion euros as of today. Italy, who has taken the lead on financing the project, has cried uncle, and since no other nation has ponied up to help the ExoMars Rover liftoff, the rover is in a holding pattern for now.

Advertisements