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Originally posted by: BlameTheEx

Beagle 2 wasn't our finest hour. Given the budget it was always going to be a long shot. Still the budget was a valid expression of our interest balanced against our resources. The American habit of throwing billions into space without apparently consulting accountants or even psychiatrists continues to amaze the rest of the world. We love to see the results, but we are very very glad we ain't paying for them.


I say better throw ten billion into a project that works than 1 into a project that is highly likely to fail miserably. The Beagle 2 reports are just now being made public and they do not make for joyful reading on behalf of the project "managers" behind Beagle 2.


Don't get me wrong - I work for the Norwegian Space Centre and it was incredible to see Beagle 2 separate from Mars Express. Well, it was like "now you see it, now you don't", meaning it had left the craft. Then we never heard from it again. I spent countless hours on public outreach work for Mars Express and Beagle 2 in Norway and if I'd known then what I know now I would not have written a single line about Beagle 2! It is a sad chapter in British space history. But put blame where it is due - I think both ESA and the BNSC could have handled this much better by establishing a decent project management PLUS actually spending some money on this extremely visionary project.


I do hope the Titan lander works out better, but I fear it's going to be a disappointment regardless after the Mars Rovers. The Titan Lander has to be thought of as a test shot. It doesn't have the capabilities for much more than finding out what is needed to land a proper probe, and that is if all goes well.


Much as I am waiting impatiently for the results of this venture, I deeply wished that NASA had gone more for development of infrastructure rather than quick results. All should have waited on development of ion drives, lighter solar colectors for power (OK. Some favour nuclear power), robotic assembly of probes in orbit, and the replacement of the shuttle with something more commercially viable. Only then can a methodical exploration of the Solar System be financially feasible, even with an american budget.


The running cost of the Saturn mission is not that great compared to a couple of failed Space Shuttles. And any way, it was planned back in the ages of Voyager and Pioneer and is the last of the "Big Ones" (Galileo being the second-to-last).


My sentiment is that we can't do enough to explore, but I agree that there is a fine line between practicality and need. I think the Rosetta mission, which is out to explore a comet, is a fine example of a cost-effective program. ESA (The European Space Agency for outsiders) are trying to apply a refinement of NASA's failed "Faster-Better-Cheaper" policy, going for "Faster-Better-Smarter" instead. Reusing the blueprints for instruments on many missions, for example, is one example. The solar panel control mechanisms on Mars Express are basically the same as those on Rosetta and the upcoming Venus Express.


And, frankly, Mars Express is an astonishing accomplishment to date.


Regardless, my thanks for your consideration for my feelings. I was beginning to wonder if anybody on this site worried about such things.


We only run around and yell at each other, of course. We're just slowing down for you, pal.

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