US to take stake in key European mission to Mars
NASA is likely to shoulder a major chunk of a planned unmanned European mission to Mars that has been troubled by rows over design and budget, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Monday.
The ExoMars mission, the flagship of ESA’s “Aurora” programme to explore the Solar System, was initially sketched in 2005 as a small robot rover that would be sent down to the Red Planet and cost no more than 650 million euros (890 million dollars).
But as the project developed, its design became more ambitious and the likely cost ballooned at one time to nearly twice the original figure, an estimate rejected by ESA’s member states.
Its launch, initially scheduled for 2011, was pushed back to 2013 and was delayed last year for a third time, to 2016.
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