Author Topic: Inspector general report warns of cost and schedule problems for Europa Clipper  (Read 202 times)

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Online Elderberry

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Space News by Jeff Foust — May 29, 2019

As NASA prepares for a key review of the Europa Clipper mission, a report by the agency’s inspector general warns that the mission’s launch may face delays and significant cost increases.

The report by NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), released May 29, also said that a follow-on lander mission, which Congress has funded over the objections of the agency, is also unlikely to be ready for launch in 2025 as directed and likely will cost significantly more than expected, upsetting the balance of priorities for the agency’s planetary science missions.

The Europa Clipper mission is currently scheduled for launch in 2023 to go into orbit around Jupiter. The spacecraft will make dozens of close approaches to Europa, a large icy moon believed to harbor a subsurface ocean of liquid water. The spacecraft’s instruments will help scientists determine if Europa is potentially habitable.

Europa Clipper has advanced faster than NASA originally intended thanks to the advocacy of now former Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), a House appropriator who secured far more money for the mission than requested. The OIG report notes that in fiscal years 2013 through 2019, Congress provided $2.04 billion in funding for Europa missions, primarily Europa Clipper, while NASA requested only $785 million in the same period.

That funding, though, may not be sufficient to keep the mission on track for a 2023 launch, a date that has already slipped a year from original plans. “Despite robust early-stage funding, a series of significant developmental and personnel resource challenges place the Clipper’s current mission cost estimates and planned 2023 target launch at risk,” the OIG report states.

Among the issues cited in the OIG report was the selection and development of Europa Clipper’s instruments. The report found that the project selected instrument proposals with cost estimates “later found to be far too optimistic.”

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Offline Dexter

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If it were up to me NASA's budget would probably be 10x bigger. This stuff is important for the long-term development of our species.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 02:16:56 PM by Dexter »
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