Saturday, February 18, 2012

NASA Leadership In Space Exploration Shaken

Feb 17, 2012

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NASA faces a loss of confidence in its international space-exploration leadership after the unilateral U.S. withdrawal from a series of joint robotic missions to Mars with the European Space Agency.
Instead of working with ESA’s ExoMars program on sample-return precursor missions in 2016 and 2018, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) will join forces with the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) directorate and the Office of the Chief Technologist to work up a medium-sized mission in 2018 that may meet the needs of all three NASA units.
In the Obama administrations’ fiscal 2013 NASA budget request, the Mars exploration portion of the SMD budget would be cut by $226.2 million, down from $587 million in the current fiscal year. Most of the remaining $360.8 million will go for the nuclear-powered Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) now en route to the red planet, and the upcoming Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (Maven) orbiter scheduled for a launch in 2013 to study its upper atmosphere.



Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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