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Beagle 2 failure blamed on poor management
Posted: Mon, May 24, 2004, 1:48 PM ET (1748 GMT)
Beagle 2 lander illustration (Beagle 2) The loss of Britain's Beagle 2 Mars lander was caused in part by poor management of the overall project, according to a report published Monday. The final report of the joint ESA/UK investigation into the failed mission said there was little evidence to allow them to determine what caused the spacecraft to fail to contact Earth after its landing on Christmas Day last year. A number of causes, ranging from the failed deployment of its airbags to tangled parachute lines that prevented the spacecraft from opening after landing could explain the mission failure. Colin Pillinger, the head of the project, said that unusually warm temperatures in the Martian atmosphere made it thinner and may have caused the spacecraft to come in too fast. Tight schedules and a lack of pre-launch testing may have contributed to the failure, as well as "programmatic and organizational reasons", including a lack of funding in the early phases of the mission. The full report will remain confidential, although ESA did publish a summary of the report as well as 19 recommendations for future European Mars missions.
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