Люди во время встречи первого восхода солнца Нового 2023 года в Сеуле  - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.04.2023
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NASA Postpones Mars Sample Project and Seeks Alternatives Amid Budget Cuts

© NASA . NASA/JPL-CaltechMars Perseverance Sol 194: Right Navigation Camera (Navcam)
Mars Perseverance Sol 194: Right Navigation Camera (Navcam) - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.04.2024
The cost for NASA’s project sharply increased and is now estimated to be between $8 billion and $11 billion, with the date of the project also having been pushed off by about a decade.
NASA revealed that their plan to bring samples from Mars to Earth has been postponed due to costs. The goal of the project - the Mars Sample Return program - is to return samples from Mars in order to better prepare human explorers who may seek to go there. According to NASA, they have partnered with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the project.
The date has reportedly been pushed forward multiple times due to ballooning costs. On Monday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in order for the program to move forward, NASA is now “seeking innovative designs” from the NASA community.
“Mars Sample Return will be one of the most complex missions NASA has ever undertaken. The bottom line is, an $11 billion budget is too expensive, and a 2040 return date is too far away,” said Nelson.
“Safely landing and collecting the samples, launching a rocket with the samples off another planet – which has never been done before – and safely transporting the samples more than 33 million miles back to Earth is no small task. We need to look outside the box to find a way ahead that is both affordable and returns samples in a reasonable timeframe," he added.
NASA released their response to an independent review of the project from September of 2023. In their response, they included: “an updated mission design with reduced complexity; improved resiliency; risk posture; stronger accountability and coordination; and an overall budget likely in the $8 billion to $11 billion range."
A Mars One colony  - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.08.2023
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Reviews of the project have suggested that the costs should be no more than $5 billion to $7 billion, said Nelson. But NASA has had to reduce its spending due to budget cuts for the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years, causing the agency to take a hit of $2.5 billion.
The agency is now asking its community to find a way to revise the plan so that it is cheaper and faster. NASA will also solicit architecture proposals in an effort to see return samples in the 2030s and at a lower “cost, risk, and mission complexity”. The agency hopes to receive these proposals by late fall.
“NASA has engaged in a systematic effort to determine the early history of Mars and how it can help us understand the formation and evolution of habitable worlds, including Earth,” NASA wrote in a press release.

“As part of that effort, Mars Sample Return has been a long-term goal of international planetary exploration for the past two decades. NASA’s Perseverance rover has been collecting samples for later collection and return to Earth since it landed on Mars in 2021”.

The Perseverance rover has already gathered 24 core samples since landing in 2021 at Mars’ Jezero Crater, but the agency hopes it will collect a total of more than 30 in order to study Mars’ history.
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