HomeHealth & FitnessMars Science Lab launch delayed two years

Mars Science Lab launch delayed two years

WASHINGTON (CNN) — NASA’s launch of the Mars Science Laboratory — hampered by technical difficulties and value overruns — has been delayed till the autumn of 2011, NASA officers mentioned at a information convention Thursday in Washington.

A photograph illustration of a laser-equipped automobile that’s set to be a part of the Mars Science Laboratory.

The mission had been scheduled for launch within the fall of 2009.

The Mars Science Lab is a big, nuclear-powered rover designed to traverse lengthy distances with a set of onboard scientific devices aboard.

It is, in accordance with NASA’s Web website, a part of a “long-term effort of robotic exploration” established to “study the early environmental history of Mars” and assess whether or not Mars has ever been — or nonetheless is — capable of maintain life.

The delay of the launch, in accordance with NASA, is because of a variety of “testing and hardware challenges that must (still) be addressed to ensure mission success.”

“The progress in recent weeks has not come fast enough on solving technical challenges and pulling hardware together,” mentioned Charles Elachi, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Changing to a 2011 launch “will allow for careful resolution of any remaining technical problems, proper and thorough testing, and avoid a mad dash to launch,” argued NASA Associate Administrator Ed Weiler.

The general price of the Mars Science Lab is now projected to be roughly $2.1 billion, in accordance with NASA spokesman Dwayne Browne. The challenge initially carried a price ticket of $1.6 billion.

NASA’s whole funds for the present fiscal yr, in accordance with Browne, is roughly $15 billion.

According to NASA, the Mars rover will use new applied sciences and be engineered to discover higher distances over rougher terrain than earlier missions to the planet. This shall be achieved partly by using a brand new floor propulsion system.

“Failure is not an option on this mission,” Weiler mentioned. “The science is too important and the investment of American taxpayer dollars compels us to be absolutely certain that we have done everything possible to ensure the success of this flagship planetary mission.”

Weiler asserted that, based mostly on the company’s preliminary evaluations, further prices tied to the delay of the Science Lab launch wouldn’t outcome within the cancellation of different NASA packages over the subsequent two years. He did, nonetheless, concede that it will lead to different unspecified program delays.

Critics have charged that the delay and value overruns related to the Mars Science Lab are indicative of an company that’s stricken by an absence of accountability and inefficiency by way of its administration of each time and taxpayer {dollars}.

“The Mars Science Laboratory is barely the newest symptom of a NASA tradition that has misplaced management of spending,” wrote Alan Stern, a former NASA affiliate administrator, in a November 24 op-ed within the New York Times. “A cancer is overtaking our space agency: the routine acquiescence to immense cost increases in projects.”

Stern charged that the company’s price overruns are being fueled by “managers who disguise the size of cost increases that missions incur” and “members of Congress who accept steep increases to protect local jobs.”

Browne replied in a written assertion saying that NASA directors are “constantly working to improve (the agency’s) cost-estimating capabilities. … We continually review our projects to understand the true risk in terms of performance, cost and schedule.”

“The fact of life at NASA, where we are charged with creating first-of-a-kind missions of scientific discovery, is that estimating the costs of … science can be almost as difficult as actually doing the science,” Browne mentioned.

NASA’s most up-to-date Mars challenge — the mission of the Phoenix Mars Lander — got here to an finish final month after the solar-powered automobile’s batteries ran down as the results of a mud storm and the onset of Martian winter. It had operated two months past its preliminary three-month mission.

NASA officers had landed the automobile on an arctic plain after satellite tv for pc observations indicated there have been huge portions of frozen water in that space, more than likely within the type of permafrost. They thought such a location can be a promising place to search for natural chemical compounds that might sign a liveable setting.

Scientists had been capable of confirm the presence of water-ice within the Martian subsurface, discover small concentrations of salts that could possibly be vitamins for all times, and observe snow descending from the clouds, NASA mentioned Thursday.

All About Mars ExplorationNASA

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