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NASA seeks revamp of Mars Sample Return program
Posted: Sat, Apr 20, 2024, 10:26 AM ET (1426 GMT)
Mars sample return mission illustration (NASA) NASA is looking for fresh ideas to reduce the cost and shorten the schedule for Mars Sample Return. The agency announced Monday that it will seek proposals for studies on ways to bring back samples collected by the Perseverance rover faster and less expensively than the agency's current approach. That came after an internal study confirmed the current MSR architecture would cost between $8 billion and $11 billion and, to fit it within projected budgets without cutting other programs, would delay the return of the samples to 2040. NASA plans to have studies on alternative approaches done by this fall to allow it to determine the best way forward on MSR. NASA will spend $310 million on MSR in the current fiscal year, near the low end of the range included in a 2024 appropriations bill, and will request $200 million in 2025. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he has briefed key members of Congress about those plans and they were "quite understanding" of the situation, but in a statement late Monday California's two senators said the proposed funding levels for MSR "are woefully short" and called on NASA to work with Congress to balance the cuts to the program.
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