NASA Will Either Land or Orbit Mars in 2003 – But Not Both

By Keith Cowing
May 12, 2000
Filed under ,

FIDOAccording to NASA; “In 2003, NASA may launch either a Mars scientific orbiter mission or a large scientific rover which will land using an airbag cocoon like that on the successful 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission. The two concepts were selected from dozens of options that had been under study. NASA will make a decision on the options, including whether or not to proceed to launch, in early July.”

This announcement comes on the heels of two back-to-back Mars mission failures, a series of NASA mission failure reports, and Congressional oversight hearings. According to NASA; “The Mars Surveyor Orbiter is a multi-instrument spacecraft similar in size to the currently operating Mars Global Surveyor. The rover is a based on the Athena rover design, which already has been operated in field tests and previously was considered for the cancelled 2001 lander mission.”

NASA Administrator Dan Goldin was scheduled to testify before the House Science Committee on NASA’s future Mars exploration plans on 11 May 2000. That hearing was unexpectedly cancelled at the last minute due to conflicting House business and will be rescheduled in the near future.

° Press release, NASA

° News, The Whole Mars Catalog

° NASA’s Mars Program after the Young Report Part II, Hearings before the House Science Committee

° Mars Missions, SpaceRef

° NASA Advisors Explain Mars Mission Failures to a Concerned Congress, SpaceRef

° NASA Reveals Probable Cause of Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space-2 Mission Failures, SpaceRef

° Two Mars Mission Reports Delivered to NASA; A Third to Follow, SpaceRef

° Mars Exploration: AAAS Ponders: “Where do we go from here?”, SpaceRef

° Testimony of John Casani, Chairman of the JPL Special Review Board before the House Science Committee

° Testimony of Thomas Young, Chairman of the Mars Program Independent Assessment Team before the House Science Committee

° Opening Statement of Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner at House Science Committee Hearings: “NASA’s Mars Program after the Young Report, Part I”

° Sensenbrenner Statement on Young Report Covering NASA’s Recent Mars Mission Failures

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.