JPL's InSight: Ignoring The Real Costs - and its MPL Heritage

Keith's note: According to the official web page for the proposed InSight mission to Mars at NASA JPL: "The InSight mission will fly a near-duplicate of the Mars lander that the Phoenix mission used successfully in 2007 to study ground ice near the north pole of Mars. The reuse of this technology, developed and built by Lockheed-Martin Space Systems in Denver, CO, will provide a low-risk path to Mars without the added cost of designing and testing a new system from scratch." No cost numbers are provided to verify the cost cutting claim.

The highly successful Mars Phoenix is (logically) mentioned as a way to claim cost savings. But when Phoenix was proposed the cost savings from heavy reuse of failed Mars Polar Lander heritage hardware were cited - but never fully explained. If this mission is approved there is no doubt that JPL and SMD PAO will once again try and claim massive cost savings and simultaneously not mention the money spent to develop the hardware for previous missions.

Keith's update: Gee, that was fast. Spin control has begun. JPL PAO's Veronica McGregor just tweeted "@NASAWatch MPL was a different design from the 2001 lander." The University of Arizona's Phoenix site says "The Phoenix Mission uses the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, built in 2000, but later administratively mothballed." According to the NASA NSSDC entry on Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander: "The mission will be based on the Mars '98 Polar Lander". Here we go again, JPL is trying to have it both ways - they want you to accept the fact that InSight uses Phoenix heritage (i.e. the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander) - but they do not want you to know that Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander was very, very closely based on the Mars Polar Lander design - indeed, modifications to what became Phoenix were the direct result of the failure analysis of MPL - that is how closely they were related.

- NASA SMD's Cost Overrun Coverup (updated with Telecon notes), earlier post
- Yet Another Mars Phoenix Cost Figure, earlier post
- The Actual Cost of Mars Phoenix is $520 Million, earlier post
- Why Does The Official Cost of Mars Phoenix Keep Changing?, earlier post
- NASA Has a Problem Calculating - and Admitting - What Space Missions Really Cost, earlier post

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on February 1, 2012 11:20 PM.

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