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Report: NASA cancels Mars telecom orbiter mission
Posted: Fri, Jul 22, 2005, 10:38 AM ET (1438 GMT)
Mars Telecom Orbiter illustration (NASA/JPL) NASA has cancelled plans to build a communications satellite that would orbit Mars and serve as a relay for future missions, a Denver newspaper reported Friday. According to the report in the Rocky Mountain News, NASA decided last week to cancel the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter spacecraft in an effort to cut costs. The $500-million spacecraft was to launch in 2009 and go into orbit around Mars; once there, it would act as a relay for future missions, allowing high-bandwidth communications between Earth and spacecraft on Mars. MTO would also have tested laser communications links that promised to significantly increase the amount of data that could be transmitted to Earth. Lockheed Martin had been in negotiations with NASA for a contract to build the spacecraft. Instead, NASA now plans to use the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled for launch next month, as a communications relay once its prime mission is completed.
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