The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced on Wednesday its plan to send another ‘buggy’ to the moon in 2020. NASA said the next unmanned vehicle to be sent to the Red Planet will be hugely based on the concept behind curiosity.
After a highly successful launching of Curiosity, NASA said its next Mars rover mission will cost around $1.5 billion which is very much within the budget threshold following a big budget cuts announced earlier this year.
“The challenge to restructure the Mars Exploration Program has turned from the seven minutes of terror for the Curiosity landing to the start of seven years of innovation,” John Grunsfeld, NASA’s science chief, said in a statement on CNET.com Tuesday.
Grunsfeld said the imminent restructuring of the Mars exploration program has not entirely halted NASA’s main objective of discovering more on the red planet, but instead it would be a stepping stone for the development of a new technology designed for space exploration.
NASA explained that the current technologies incorporated into curiosity – like the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent system that helped the nuclear-powered vehicle to have a safe landing – will be used again along with other spare parts from the successful rover mission, thus reducing the amount of expenditures.
“This mission concept fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a favorable launch opportunity,” Grunsfeld said after announcing the new mission at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco.
In addition, Grunsfeld assured that the man and woman behind the success of curiosity will continue to work together towards achieving another milestone for human kind.
“This whole team…is still together and we’re going to leverage that to build on the Mars 2020 rover. That’s what enables us to do the whole plan within the current budget.”
So far, NASA’s next Martian venture is getting key support from scientist to politicians, including Californian congressman Adam Schiff, who believes launching the next rover will be much more ideal in 2018.
“While a 2020 launch would be favorable due to the alignment of Earth and Mars, a launch in 2018 would be even more advantageous as it would allow for an even greater payload to be launched to Mars,” he said. “I will be working with NASA, the White House and my colleagues in Congress to see whether advancing the launch date is possible and what it would entail.”