Experts over at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have sounded their alarm over the issue that might hamper the delivery of one of its missions due to delays brought upon by legislative actions.
NASA’s Europa Clipper probe is set to launch in the year 2024 and it will study Jupiter’s Europa. It is an ocean moon, which according to a report by Mike Wall on Space.com, the gas giant’s moon has a large sea of liquid water underneath its icy shell exterior. The mission will primarily try to study the possibility of the moon being able to harbor life. not only that, Wall reports that it will also do a lot of tasks including surveying the surrounding landscape for other viable landing sites for future similar missions.
But with the recent developments in Congress, authorities over at NASA shared that the availability of a rocket for the Europa Clipper mission may not be guaranteed. With the proposed 2021 budget of the House of Representatives, it ordered the space agency to be able to launch the Clipper mission by 2025 and Europa two years after. But with the budget overruns and costs cut-offs experienced by the project in its development phase, this lead for NASA officials to look for other alternative means to be able to push through with the launch dates.
Members of the team, led by its project manager Jan Chodas, have raised their concerns stating that they “really need a decision by the end of this year in order to continue to mature the spacecraft development” in a meeting early this month.
But this predicament did not hamper the work’s fighting spirit to carry on with their project development tasks. As Wall reports, the team is working on being able to attain the mission’s critical design review which is important before it will be approved to be able to commence to the next stage which is full-scale manufacturing.
Costing about $3 billion, the Europa Clipper mission has had its share of project issues. For one, the price of its onboard instruments has increased – pushing the overall cost of the mission upward. The Coronavirus disease – 2019 (COVID-19) has also made a considerable impact on the team’s workflow and they are currently checking the extent of its effects in reaching the mission’s targets.
Space officials estimate that if everything goes according to plan, the Clipper craft will be ready for launch by the first part of 2024 which will then be followed by a liftoff schedule in the summer or fall of the same year.