NASA gives go-ahead for Mars lander in 2018

Image: InSight lander
An artist’s conception shows NASA’s InSight lander on Mars. The SEIS instrument is in the chamber shown to the left of the lander platform. (Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech)

NASA has approved plans to fix a flaw on its InSight lander in time for a launch to Mars in 2018.

The flaw involves a leak in a vacuum seal for one of the lander’s main scientific instruments, known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure or SEIS. InSight had been scheduled for launch this year, but last December, NASA put off the launch because the leak couldn’t be fixed in time.

Today NASA said it would spend an extra $153.8 million, on top of the mission’s previously budgeted $675 million, to redesign the instrument and cover other costs of the two-year delay.

“The additional cost will not delay or cancel any current missions, though there may be fewer opportunities for new missions in future years, from fiscal years 2017 to 2020,” NASA said in a statement.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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