17–19 September 2018
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NASA Considering 2020s Mission To Obtain Samples From Mars

29 August 2017
Spaceflight Now reports that NASA is “examining options to launch a robotic mission as soon as 2026 to pick up rock specimens from the surface of Mars and bring them back to Earth, moving forward the timeline for a sample return mission as the agency postpones plans for a new Mars reconnaissance and data relay orbiter.” NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said Monday that the mission’s several billion dollar cost to the US may be reduced with international or commercial participation. Zurbuchen said that the agency estimates the Mars mission could go forward as soon as 2026, and would go “straight for what I would consider the jugular issue, which is how to land and take off the planet.” Zurbuchen also “said NASA is also looking at purchasing Mars communications relay services from the private sector.” However, Planetary Society Director of Space Policy Casey Dreier said that while he is “generally supportive” of the plan outlined by Zurbuchen, “in a practical sense, the orbital Mars community will be facing tough times ahead with a dearth of missions for at least the next decade, if not more.”  (Image Credit: NASA/JPL via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)

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