Friday, April 22, 2011
Mars - The Political Dance
Putting together a new Mars 2018 mission that merges two rovers -- one each from ESA and NASA -- into one while preserving the capabilities of both likely will present numerous technical problems. For ESA, it also presents political issues since ESA spending must be distributed according to national contributions to missions. Space News has a nice article on the challenges ESA faces in putting together the right plan to meet its budgeting requirements. While there is time to plan for the 2018 rover mission, this also impacts the joint 2016 Mars Trace Gas Orbiter mission for which time is short. For NASA, the two missions are separate missions with separate budgets. For ESA, this is a single program with a single budget. Indications are that ESA wants to proceed with both missions, but needs to put together a plan for approval by its member nations in May.