The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the continued interest of the United States expedition to the Red Planet in 2018-2020, although at a reduced scale, and about finding foreign partners, so daring to venture out on a joint project.
Will there be a wish — that is the question: the previous companion, the European Space Agency (ESA), still shudders at the mention of the acronym "NASA".
In 2012, a modified program will spend $ 30 million alone for long enough to renewed interest?
The new project, the documents referred to in budget planning as Mars Next Generation, estimated at $ 700 million supposedly launch date — between 2018 and 2020 — Sources at NASA called a "very approximate". And that's understandable. Budget 2013 suddenly left the office without a single interplanetary mission. It may be that without the active space program at all. In fact, the only more or less the direction of the survivors can be considered as a freight and passenger launches into Earth orbit, which the novel concept of Mr. Obama's shift to a private company.
Only recently, NASA informed ESA to withdraw from the ExoMars, a joint program with the Europeans to launch and return of the rover that would collect soil on Mars and brought him back to Earth. Alone costs the U.S. and will not need the equipment for the mission exceeded $ 45 million But the Europeans found themselves in a difficult position: own funds do not allow them to draw out the project alone, and alteration of pre-built components is costly in itself. Remembering things happening in the Greek economy, it can be assumed that the EU mission alone will not pull, but also to collaborate with NASA is unlikely to want. (Space friendship with the Americans ended zilch more than once; enough to remember "Vega" and other programs.)
What the Europeans! Even the $ 30 million for Mars Next Generation two-thirds come from funds not spent last year on the closed ExoMars, and one-third — of the project for the preparation of flights to the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, which is also postponed until just not quite clear for how long.
Interestingly, the overall NASA budget fell not very much — to $ 17.71 billion (at the Russian Space Agency and it does $ 5 billion). In fact, severely curtailed only study of Mars and the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn — in other words, the most important from a scientific point of projects. At the same time, Charles Bolden, head of NASA, said in an address to Congress that his organization is "looking for international cooperation in the new mission-changing."
U.S. planetary scientists are skeptical that wish will be. "Fear is the level of confidence in NASA and the U.S. government in the eyes of the world: they will decide whether to work with us?" — Asks David Marais, a geochemist at NASA-Center. Ames. He was echoed by Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University: "The whole international disorder reflects the deep political problems, weighed down by the same budget constraints. I still find it strange that NASA is not considered important scientific agency sto'yaschim financial support.
The presidential administration has increased the allocation for the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Scientific Department of the Ministry of Energy, but not at NASA. " But that said professor at the same university, William Mackinnon, the chairman of the analytical group of NASA's solar system planets: "The new plan has forced us to squeeze what we had planned, to such an extent that it squeezed the life out of our flight program. In such circumstances, we can not run any major ship. "
In March, after the relevant congressional hearings, should clarify the vague prospect until the mission to Europe, a satellite of Jupiter. Hopefully, the final phase of this very important project is still not forthcoming.