Mon, May 24, 2004
Official Inquiry Says Mars Project Mismanaged
It was Europe's first journey to another planet -- a British-led
project that was to showcase the UK's inventiveness and reach. But
the Beagle 2 Mars probe went missing Christmas Day. Now, a new
report to be released Monday says the British-led team was fatally
Specifically, the commission's report says the job was rushed
and done on the cheap, according to the British Independent
newspaper. The questions now include whether the British space
program can effectively continue in the wake of the report.
The Independent reports the Beagle 2 team is privately "furious"
with the report's conclusions -- and perhaps, for good reason. The
Beagle 2 lander was made a part of the European Space Agency's
mission to Mars only three years ago. After that, ESA officials
ordered the Beagle 2 team to cut the size of the probe in half. The
inquiry commission's report will reportedly also say that the ESA
should have made the probe a much bigger part of the Mars mission
-- and should have dedicated more experienced staffers to the
The ESA will reportedly agree, at least in part, with the
commission's findings. In a statement to be released concurrently
with the commission's findings, the Independent reports the ESA
will say that the investigation "made it clear that there were
programmatic and organizational reasons that significantly
increased the risk of Beagle 2 failure."
But members of the British Beagle 2 team say it's just not fair
to criticize their shortcomings when NASA has lost two-thirds of
its Mars probes over the last 10 years.
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