Friday, March 22, 2019

The Mars 2020 Rover is About to Go Over Budget

          By Henry Stewart

NASA's current flagship robotics mission, the $2.46Bln US ($3.29Bln CDN) Mars 2020 rover, is "following the pattern of its predecessors and seeing its cost rise because of technical issues."

As outlined in the March 18th, 2019 Science post, "Cost of Mars 2020 mission may rise by up to 15%," the mission’s cost will increase by "no more than 15%" according to Lori Glade, NASA’s acting director of planetary science.

That's still a sizable sum and will take money away from other NASA missions. Cost growth above the 15% threshold would also trigger requirements for US Congressional notification and mission modifications, according to a plan put in place by NASA in 2016 intended to limit cost overruns.

As outlined in the March 19th, 2019 Space News post, "NASA dealing with cost growth on planetary science flagship missions," there had been "widespread rumors in the planetary science community that Mars 2020 was facing cost overruns."

According to the article:
The agency said problems with two instruments, the planetary instrument for x-ray lithochemistry and scanning habitable environments with raman and luminescence for organics and chemicals, as well as rover’s system for caching samples that will be returned to Earth by future missions, contributed to the cost growth.

Mars 2020 is part of a larger NASA multi-mission plan to collect Martian rock and soil samples for eventual return to Earth. Any cost overruns and delays in the Mars 2020 mission will likely also impact and delay the anticipated follow-on missions.

As outlined in the December 4th, 2018 Don't Let Go Canada post, "Canadian-Based Company Selected to Design Next-Generation Mars Rover," Brampton ON based MDA Space Systems will have the opportunity to contribute to the follow-on programs.

The Mars 2020 rover is currently scheduled to launch on in July 2020, and touch down in Jezero crater on Mars in February 2021.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Space Focused Overview of the 2019 Federal Budget is Now Available Online

          By Chuck Black

It's a little bit late (it was posted 1am EST last night) and it's got a few typo's and glitches (which we're hoping to correct for next time) but the March 20th, 2019 Commercial Space blog "Special Report" on "A Space Focused Overview of the 2019 Federal Budget" is now available online.

The report also contains an overview of the last three Federal budgets and how those documents effected the Canadian space industry, an overview of recent press releases from corporations and industry groups reacting to the latest budget and links to primary source materials.

It's important for independent journalists to hold governments to account and provide context for government decisions and current events. If you'd like to learn more about how you can assist with this, please contact me at
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

We'll Release a "Special Report" on the 2019 Federal Budget on Wednesday, March 20th

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will formally release his fourth Federal Budget to the Canadian House of Commons just after 4pm EST today.

This blog is compiling a "Special Report" on what the new budget means for Canada's space industry. It will be e-mailed directly to Commercial Space blog subscribers on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019.

If you're not a subscriber who already receives our regular Tuesday and Friday coverage and wish to receive a free subscription, please check out the "Subscribe to this Blog" section on the Commercial Space blog website.

Finance Minister Morneau in the House of Commons. Photo c/o Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick.

As outlined in the March 17th, 2019 National Post article, "Morneau seen delivering a stimulus-filled budget ahead of the election," Canada’s ruling Liberals "are expected to table a goody-filled budget later this week in bid to get back on course with voters."

Several of those about to be announced goodies are expected to effect the space industry and the various innovation policies developed by the Federal government over the last four years to turn Canada into a global centre for innovation.

The budget will almost certainly also serve as an informal (and perhaps formal, depending on the validity of various political rumors currently making the rounds) kick-off to the 2019 Federal election.

For more, check out the Commercial Space blog "Special Report" on the 2019 Federal Budget on Wednesday.

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