The rising cost of the Mars Sample Return mission may threaten other NASA projects

NASA has requested 949.3 million dollars for the implementation of the MSR (Mars Sample Return) mission in 2024. This amount significantly exceeds last year’s assessment of the needs of the organization. A further increase in mission costs could jeopardize the implementation of other NASA projects.

The concept of the Mars Sample Return mission. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The MSR mission is being developed by NASA in collaboration with ESA. Its purpose is to deliver soil samples collected by the Perseverance rover to Earth. At the moment, the implementation of MSR is planned for the end of the 2020s.

Due to the complexity of the mission architecture, the creation and launch of MSR requires very impressive financial costs. So, only this year 653.2 million dollars will be allocated for it. More recently, NASA estimated the needs of the mission for 2024 at USD 800 million. However, experts underestimated the costs required to implement such an ambitious project. The recently published draft budget of NASA contains a figure of USD 949.3 million, which is proposed to be allocated for the mission in 2024.

NASA has not yet reported what caused such a significant increase in costs. But it becomes obvious that this could jeopardize a number of other space missions. For example, VERITAS, which has already been put on pause with the prospect of cancellation in the future.

The GDC (Geospace Dynamics Constellation) heliospheric mission is also under threat. Within its framework, it is planned to launch a constellation of six spacecraft designed to study space weather. At the moment, its launch is scheduled for 2029, but the current version of the NASA budget actually involves freezing the mission.

According to

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