Mars rover devours budgets, Nature
"The rover's latest price tag is US$2.286 billion - 40% more than the official $1.63-billion estimate made in 2006. But even that will not be enough. In a 'breach report' due to be handed to the US Congress by the end of July, NASA will report that the troublesome mission, now also called Curiosity, needs $15115 million more on top of the $2.286-billion estimate. NASA has so far avoided delays and cancellations to other missions by raiding technology-development funds within the Mars programme. But officials are now considering delays to two planned Moon missions. "The time for some tough decisions is here," said NASA science chief Ed Weiler. He broke the news to planetary scientists at an advisory-committee meeting on 9 July at NASA headquarters in Washington DC, along with Jim Green, director of the planetary science division, and Mars programme chief Doug McCuistion."
Keith's note: It is quite obvious that JPL is in complete control of how Ed sets SMD priorities and that he is powerless to stop JPL from getting what it wants - no matter what collateral damage is done to the rest of NASA's space and planetary science portfolio.
According to sources who heard Weiler speak. during his presentation at a meeting to discuss the NRC's Decade Survey for Planetary Sciences, Ed Weiler said that the 2020 Outer Planets Flagship mission to Europa cannot be paid for within the currently anticipated SMD Planetary Sciences Division run out. Weiler also went out of his way to dump on much of NASA's current lunar science mission planning making a point of noting that its missions were not selected via peer review. He also urged the NRC committee to take the money that was being considered for future lunar missions and to give it to SMD. As for cost increases within MSL sources report that the $115 million figure cited in Nature is just the beginning of a new cost overrun and that this number will grow substantially in the weeks to come. As Clive Neal from the University of Notre Dame is quoted in the Nature article observed "Where's it going to end?"
Of course, any time that anyone in the space science community dares to report what Weiler has said or plans to do, Ed mounts a witch hunt to find out who they are with dire repercussions threatened. Just watch as Ed mounts yet another witch hunt over this topic.
SMD PAO promised to send me copies of Weiler's charts yesterday. I have yet to get them.
Keith's update: Just got the carts from SMD PAO; NASA Briefing Charts: Mars Exploration Program Status Planetary Sciences Subcommittee of NAC