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NASA Slows Mars Sample Return Progress Amid Budget Concerns

Funding limitations

NASA Slows Mars Sample Return Progress Amid Budget Concerns

Budget uncertainties for 2024 have prompted NASA to slow down its Mars Sample Return work, an official said Monday.

Speaking at a Planetary Science Advisory Committee meeting, Sandra Connelly, deputy associate administrator for science at NASA, said the agency ordered three MSR field centers to reduce their activities. MSR currently operates on an $822.3 million budget provided through a continuing resolution set to expire on Nov. 17.

NASA’s order comes as lawmakers deliberate on the agency’s proposed budget. A House bill approves the agency’s full $949.3 million request while the Senate counterpart only allocates $300 million with provisions for descoping or canceling MSR completely if the program would cost over $5.3 billion.

An independent review on MSR projects that it could cost between $8 billion and $11 billion, SpaceNews reported.

The MSR is not the only program to be affected by budget-related issues.

In December, NASA reported delays in its current and future missions despite receiving a budget boost. Supply chain issues, inaccurate budget cost estimates and the COVID-19 pandemic prevented NASA from moving forward with various planetary science missions, said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division.

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Category: Space