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Mars program in "crisis mode"
Posted: Wed, Feb 20, 2002, 12:16 AM ET (0516 GMT)
Mars Exploration Rover (NASA/JPL) NASA's Mars exploration program is facing a "budget crisis" that could delay or cancel future sample return missions, according to a SPACE.com article published Tuesday. The report stated that NASA Mars program director Orlando Figueroa called an urgent meeting on short notice for this week to discuss the situation with the agency's proposed Mars missions. There are concerns that a single Mars sample return mission, planned for around the middle of next decade, would cost up to $1.5 billion, with up to ten such missions required to return an adequate amount of samples. The proposed budget blueprint for NASA lacks "any commitment" to such missions, according to the article. There are also reports that NASA may scale back twin rover missions scheduled for launch in 2003 to a single rover as another cost-cutting move.
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