NASA Set to Unveil ‘Jupiter Tour’ Mission

By Keith Cowing
January 29, 2003
Filed under
NASA Set to Unveil ‘Jupiter Tour’ Mission

When NASA rolls out its FY 2004 budget on Monday a large new planetary exploration mission will be revealed. The Bush Adminstration has signed off on a multi-billion-dollar-class mission dubbed by some within NASA as a “Jupiter Tour’ – a mission which embodies a radical departure from the past four decades of planetary exploration.

The “Jupiter Tour” would utilize a sophisticated spacecraft capable of multiple jumps from an orbit around one jovian moon to an orbit around another. Such a capability could allow close, detailed, and long-term studies to be made of some – perhaps many – of the members of Jupiter’s retinue of 40 (or more) moons.

The mission is slated for the 2009/2010 time frame and is expected to last more than a decade. the “Jupiter Tour” will use an advanced nuclear-powered electric propulsion system developed under the umbrella of the newly-focused “Prometheus” program.

The cost of the program is projected to be at least $3 billion through Fiscal Year 2008.

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