SETI PLANETARY SOCIETY: NASA Threatening to Kill Two Planetary Missions (fwd)

Ed T. Toton III (
Fri, 18 Jun 1999 10:20:58 -0400 (EDT)

I hate it when this happens... -------------------------------------------------------------------- Bones, Ed T. Toton III, System Programmer -- UUNET Server Operations "I have not lost my mind! It's backed up on disk somewhere." -------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 16:09:41 -0700 From: The Planetary Society <> Reply-To: To: Subject: PLANETARY SOCIETY: NASA Threatening to Kill Two Planetary Missions This message is from The Planetary Society's General Mailing List. For more information on this list, please see the instructions below. Visit The Planetary Society at: ==================================== NASA Threatening to Kill Two Planetary Missions Planetary Society Urges Action Now It appears that NASA is about to cancel the Mars Surveyor 2001 lander mission and the ST4 Comet Lander mission! The reason: to fix problems in other parts of the agency. Other space science missions are experiencing cost overruns, NASA’s budget is decreasing and funding for future space science missions is in doubt, so apparently NASA is going to fix these problems by canceling two missions that are proceeding on schedule and within budget. We strongly object. The Mars Surveyor program has been mandated by a national space policy signed by the President. That policy specifically calls for a "sustained program to support a robotic presence on the surface of Mars by the year 2000. . . ." The cancellation of the 2001 lander violates that provision. The Congress of the United States has also strongly supported the 2001 mission –- just last year it added extra funds for the mission to enable new experiments to be developed cooperatively with the Human Exploration and Development of Space enterprise. Congress directed NASA to put in the extra funds this year and next. NASA’s apparent response: cancel the mission. Mars Surveyor 2001 is a White House Millennium Project. It is part of a publicly supported program to explore Mars and investigate the possibility of past life and the potential for future life. The mission is being developed in the new cheaper, faster, better mode, utilizing the Mars Pathfinder rover, Mars Polar Lander robotic arm, an in-situ propellant experiment for future human flight, two imaging systems, a microscope and wet chemistry laboratory, and the first privately funded, commercial partnership education experiment. The project is part of a carefully crafted architecture for exploring Mars. Just this year, NASA authorized a Mars airplane to fly in 2003, and a communications network to begin in 2003 or 2005. How can NASA start new missions to Mars while canceling existing ones? ST4, named Champollion, is a bold attempt to rendezvous, land on, and sample a comet using new technologies that will enable future outer planet missions such as the Europa orbiter. What a glorious opportunity; what a tragic sacrifice. Such actions are a throwback to previous administrations in NASA: To cancel missions that are working to deal with cost overruns in missions that are not. The last time NASA did anything like this was when it postponed Mars Observer from a 1990 to 1992 launch. As a result the cost more than doubled. When Dan Goldin came up with the "cheaper, faster, better" Mars Surveyor program, he vowed that no longer would weak missions profit at the expense of the strong ones. Well, that is what is happening now. To prevent these actions – to voice strong support for the NASA budget and to forestall any attempts to cancel existing planetary missions – members of The Planetary Society, and others who are interested, should write to the key members of Congress who have control of the NASA budget, and to Vice President Gore, who oversees the United States' space program. Urge them to stop NASA from canceling any planetary mission in order to deal with problems elsewhere in the agency. PLEASE ACT IMMEDIATELY. Go to The Planetary Society's website at Or simply send the letter below to the following individuals: Senator William Frist -- Senator Jay Rockefeller -- Subcommittee on Science Technology and Space Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation Washington DC 20510 Rep. James Sensenbrenner -- Rep. George Brown -- House of Representatives Committee on Science Washington DC 20515 Vice President Al Gore -- The White House Washington DC 20500 ========================================== Dear ___________: I have learned that NASA is considering the cancellation of both the Mars Surveyor 2001 lander and the ST4 comet lander mission. These missions are performing very well - within budget and on schedule. Mars Surveyor 2001 is an exciting and valuable mission -- part of a national commitment to a sustained robotic presence on Mars. ST4 is demonstrating new technologies for comet exploration and for outer planet missions. It would be wrong to cancel such promising planetary missions especially to deal with problems in other parts of NASA. I hope you can help influence NASA not to cancel either mission. Sincerely, ______________ ============================================== Send comments to Send comments to Excerpts may be posted on The Planetary Society's website. To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send an email message to, leave the subject blank, and type only "unsubscribe setiathome" (no quotes) in the body of the message. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the Society in 1979 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the search for extraterrestrial life. With 100,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society is the largest space interest group in the world. Copyright 1999 The Planetary Society. All Rights Reserved.

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