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Mars Swallows Invaders - NASA Swallows Pride In A Most Dreadful Year

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  • Jeroen Kumeling
    ... SIGHTINGS ... Mars Swallows Invaders - NASA Swallows Pride In A Most Dreadful Year By Nigel Hawkes Science Editor
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 8, 1999
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      Mars Swallows Invaders - NASA Swallows Pride In A Most Dreadful Year
      By Nigel Hawkes
      Science Editor
      http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/99/12/07/timfgnusa01005.html?999
      12-7-99



      MARS has a reputation as the Bermuda Triangle of space, swallowing
      spacecraft for nearly four decades.

      About two out of every three missions sent to Mars have failed, prompting
      the semi-serious opinion among space scientists that the planet is jinxed.
      There is, in fact, no logical reason why so many Mars probes should have
      failed and why the record in exploring Venus should be much better.

      Ronald Greeley, former Nasa scientist, says that there is no single reason.
      Hardware failures, human error and, in the early years of exploration,
      simple ignorance account for most of them. Some, however, remain
      unexplained. The American Mars Observer of 1992 just disappeared, a failure
      attributed to an explosion en route to Mars. The fate of the latest US
      probe, which has failed to report back after reaching Mars, may never be
      known.

      The unluckiest scientist is British: Professor Fred Taylor, of Oxford
      University, who made an instrument for Mars Observer, lost it and then flew
      the same instrument again on Mars Climate Orbiter, with the same result.
      Nevertheless, the US can point to some stunning successes, including the
      Viking lander of the 1980s and, more recently, Mars Pathfinder, which sent
      its rover across the Martian surface.

      The former Soviet Union has almost nothing to show for the billions of
      pounds it spent exploring Mars. Its first six attempts, starting in October
      1960, all failed. It was not until 1971 and its tenth attempt that it
      acquired some data and a few photographs from Mars 3. Mars 96, the last
      hurrah of the Russian unmanned programme, failed even to reach Earth orbit,
      coming down in the Pacific or, some say, in a remote corner of the Andes.

      The failure this week, if so it proves, ends an ignominious year for the US
      space agency, Nasa. Mars Climate Orbiter failed because of a confusion
      between metric and Imperial units and Mars Polar Lander for so far unknown
      reasons.

      The Hubble Space Telescope has been forced into temporary silence by the
      failure of three of its four gyroscopes, while the space shuttle has been
      grounded for most of the year, making only two flights.

      Other less well-publicised flops have added to the embarrassment. An
      astronomy satellite leaked so much fuel that it became nearly useless and a
      prototype space plane, the X33, ruptured its fuel tank the first time its
      engine was tested. Engineers had said that this might happen.The
      International Space Station is progressing, but very slowly. Behind schedule
      and over budget, it will still be months before anybody can live in it.
      Given this background, Nasa was hoping anxiously for a success from Mars
      Polar Lander.

      From: sightings@... Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999
      14:53:45 -0800 To: neff1@... Subject: Fwd: Mars Program Accident
      Waiting to Happen?

      add to Mars story


      Comment

      Mars Program - Accident Waiting To Happen?

      From: XBigPappa@...
      Subject: Caltech's chicken's coming home to roost
      12-7-99


      Can't believe NASA still allows Caltech to manage the Jet Propulsion Lab
      (JPL). Those guys are crooks. If anyone is interested in using the Freedom
      of Information Act to review all the BS that was and is on going at
      Caltech-JPL, just write the NASA Inspector Generals office In Wash D.C. and
      request a copy of Case No.'s I-JP-93-036 and I-JP-93-018 and enjoy the
      reading. I specifically warned NASA in 1993 that Caltech was using people
      off the street with no engineering degrees or license as "Quality Assurance
      Managers" and Engineers" while paying them exuberant salaries. No wonder
      these guys can't convert English to Metric and read manufacturing Dwgs
      correctly.



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