Friday, October 17, 2008

ESA Delays Mars Rover

[ESA member governments] tentatively have agreed to delay the launch of Europe's first-ever Mars rover by a little more than two years, to 2016, as part of a broader effort to rein in project costs and seek deeper cooperation with NASA and the Russian space agency, European government officials said.

The decision, made at an Oct. 15-16 meeting of ESA member governments at the agency's headquarters here, remains fragile because some governments still are resisting the price tag of the Enhanced ExoMars mission: 1 billion euros ($1.34 billion), not including the 23 instruments to be paid for by various national laboratories.

ESA had received informal estimates from Enhanced ExoMars prime contractor Thales Alenia Space-Italy that the upgraded ExoMars project demanded by scientists would cost about 1.2 billion euros for a launch in late 2013.

Several governments, including Italy, balked at the price and said they would not participate at the expected level in the program.

That's too bad! It'd be really kewl to see more than just the USA running around on Mars. Don't get me wrong! The nationalist in me wants to see 2:1 minimum for USA:all others probes out there, but I do want to see some minimal competition.

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