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  •  Mars Miss(ion) (15+ / 0-)

    Denver Post: Next Mars mission could miss launch window from government shutdown

    The U.S. federal government shutdown is threatening to delay NASA's next mission to Mars, MAVEN, by two years if it misses the November launch window.

    Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), which is about as Colorado-centric as a mission can get, entered the final phases of launch processing in Florida in August.

    But all the spacecraft work was halted Tuesday when 97 percent of NASA's workers were furloughed and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, which manages the program, and the Kennedy Space Center,where the spacecraft is prepared for launch, were closed.

    "MAVEN isn't unique — there are other missions impacted — but we are just very time-critical compared to other projects," said Bruce Jakosky, the principal investigator from the University of Colorado at Boulder and brainchild behind the mission's science.

    The $485 million project has a 20-day launch window to get off the ground, starting Nov. 18. The next window, determined by planetary alignment, won't open again until early 2016.

    "It is not time to panic yet," Jakosky said. "I would start to panic if we are shut down for a week or more."

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