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Report says Beagle 2 should have been canceled
Posted: Fri, Feb 4, 2005, 8:40 AM ET (1340 GMT)
Beagle 2 lander illustration (Beagle 2) Beagle 2, a British-built spacecraft that was lost trying to land on Mars in late 2003, was the product of a program so poorly run that the spacecraft should never have been launched, according to a report released Thursday. The report, a joint effort of ESA and the UK government, concluded that since the program was not fully funded from its inception, ESA should not have allowed the spacecraft to fly to Mars along with the agency's Mars Express orbiter. The report said that Beagle 2 was considered a "scientific instrument" and not a spacecraft in and of itself, and therefore did not get the funding and attention needed for a successful mission. The spacecraft, the report noted, was likely too complex a project to be led by a group at Open University. The report, however, did not identify a likely technical cause for the failure of the mission, only listing a number of scenarios ranging from technical flaws with the probe's landing system to a thinner-than-expected atmosphere that failed to sufficiently slow the entering probe. The report was completed last year but was not publicly released until yesterday, after the magazine New Scientist filed a request for the report under the UK's new Freedom of Information Act.
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