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UK auditor criticizes government for not revealing Beagle 2 risks
Posted: Wed, Mar 17, 2004, 7:52 AM ET (1252 GMT)
Beagle 2 lander illustration (Beagle 2) A report by the UK National Auditor Office concluded that the British space agency did not properly reveal all the risks associated with the Beagle 2 lander when it sought public funding for the mission. The report, a broad review of the UK's civil space efforts, noted that the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and its parent office, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), suffered weaknesses in risk analysis. As an example, the report noted that while steps had been made to mitigate risks associated with the Beagle 2 mission, "the residual risks in the project were not set out in the appraisal of the case made by BNSC for public funding." Although Beagle 2's mission failed for reasons not yet understood, the report acknowledged that Beagle 2 was a "high risk, high reward project" and that despite the failure it had achieved a number of benefits for the British space industry. The report also noted that the BNSC discovered that ESA, to which the UK contributes two-thirds of its space funding, had shortchanged British industry to the tune of nearly £7 million over the last three years, a problem that is now being corrected. Overall the auditor's report concluded that the BNSC and DTI had done a good job overseeing British space efforts.
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