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InSight launching in 2018


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Original title: InSight 2016 launch SCRUBBED

So yea... NASA's next Mars mission, the lander InSight, won't launch in March 2016 becuase of a leak in the vacuum compartment of the seismometer, the main instrument onboard, provided by French CNES. This means at least a 26-MONTH delay. InSight's original launch window was March 4th to March 30th. Press briefing to follow at 1530 EST.

 

Edited by Frida Space
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1 hour ago, SargeRho said:

I thought they fixed it?

From SpaceNews:

"After thorough examination, NASA managers have decided to suspend the March 2016 launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission,” NASA said Tuesday morning in a notice to journalists.  “The decision follows unsuccessful attempts to repair an air leak on a key component of the mission’s science payload."

NASA press briefing coming up at 1530 EST | 2030 GMT.

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WHAT?! Are you serious? I didn't get to see Curiosity's landing (because I was an idiot and I was never interested in astronomy, I swear if I go back in time and meet the old me I would beat the crap out of him) and now this one's delayed? God damn dude.

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A few relevant tweets:

From SpaceNews' Peter B. de Selding (@pbdes)

CNES President Le Gall: We're not giving up resolving NASA Mars InSight lander instrument leak; we have till 5 January to nail it down. We're not 100% sure that the leak Mars InSight SEIS instrument leak isn't leak-measure issue rather than actual leak. We took 3 InSight SEIS leak measures, all w/ identical results. That's odd if it's a real leak; could be false positive.

UPDATE: many news outlets (Florida Today, SpaceNews, Wired UK, Science Magazine...) have reported that the launch has officially been delayed to 2018. However CNES' President said that if the problem is fixed by January 5th they will be able to launch on time.

Edited by Frida Space
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NASA's John Grunsfeld going through the mission scientific's objectives and the SEIS seismometer.

First leak in hermetically cealed compartment found in August, then two more (one in close-out tube to pump out the vacuum). Then in cold cycle testing they found it was still leaking. "Unfortunately we don't have time to identify the leak in time. In one sense we don't have a decision to make, because we simply aren't ready. The probe was at Vandenberg waiting for the instrument, assembly of rocket had started. Shows how difficult it is for engineers. We've had failures in the past, the answer to the question "are we being overcautious" is "no". We've made final determination not to go, now we have to decid how to make the spheres vacuum-tight."

CNES' Marc Pircher: "First leak was 10^-6 (what unit?), second leak was 10^-11, so very small leaks. We're sorry but we decided with all our partners that we're not ready to go. We want to be sure that we're launching something that works."

Now John Green stressing out how InSight will perform "decadal-level science" and how "CNES has been so wonderful to work with and bla bla bla" and how "we need to obey Kepler's laws and we won't be able to make it in time for the March window."

Official press release: www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-suspends-2016-launch-of-insight-mission-to-mars-media-teleconference-today

Edited by Frida Space
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5 hours ago, Frida Space said:

John Grunsfeld saying they're evaluating whether to delay the lunch by 26 months or to cancel all together the mission if it is found that delaying it would go over the cost cap (it's a Discovery class mission).

 

5 hours ago, Frida Space said:

NASA's John Grunsfeld going through the mission scientific's objectives and the SEIS seismometer.

First leak in hermetically cealed compartment found in August, then two more (one in close-out tube to pump out the vacuum). Then in cold cycle testing they found it was still leaking. "Unfortunately we don't have time to identify the leak in time. In one sense we don't have a decision to make, because we simply aren't ready. The probe was at Vandenberg waiting for the instrument, assembly of rocket had started. Shows how difficult it is for engineers. We've had failures in the past, the answer to the question "are we being overcautious" is "no". We've made final determination not to go, now we have to decid how to make the spheres vacuum-tight."

CNES' Marc Pircher: "First leak was 10^-6 (what unit?), second leak was 10^-11, so very small leaks. We're sorry but we decided with all our partners that we're not ready to go. We want to be sure that we're launching something that works."

Now John Green stressing out how InSight will perform "decadal-level science" and how "CNES has been so wonderful to work with and bla bla bla" and how "we need to obey Kepler's laws and we won't be able to make it in time for the March window."

Official press release: www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-suspends-2016-launch-of-insight-mission-to-mars-media-teleconference-today

You can still go to Mars after the launch window, just add moar boosters! 1 booster on Atlas V=$10 Million, BTW.

Edited by fredinno
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14 hours ago, SargeRho said:

I thought they fixed it?

Sorry for irrelevancy to the thread, but I saw your comments on the NASA animation for the Mars mission a few minutes ago! Also the SSMEs are very efficient, an ISP of 444? seconds in vacuum, this is seriously regarding a comment you posted 2 years ago.

I am super sad about this though, was hyped for that

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it was supposed to launch on an atlas V 401, so they technically could still add SRBs to the atlas to increase delta-V (so they wouldn't have to redesign a payload adapter) - however, they would need to be sure Insight could handle the additionnal vibrations / accelerations of the new booster configuration.

suboptimal launch window would also mean an higher velocity at the time the spacecraft would reach mars. (so would the spacecraft have enough dV to make the needed course correction changes ? as insight will rely on the two 6u cubesats it brings with him to act as relays during entry, descent and landing, the cubesats need to be on the correct trajectory for that too :)

recalculating that much mission parameters takes an awful lot of time :)

Edited by sgt_flyer
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1 hour ago, SpaceXray said:

Can't they just launch a little after the optimal launch window, but use a larger launcher? Sounds much better than delaying or cancelling the mission altogether...

Assessing the leak could take months. They've already tried to fix it five or six times and the leak is still there, so they obviously aren't sure what to do now. Althought they said it's unlikely, they haven't been able to rule out a design issue yet, so it's possible that the instrument simply can't be fixed because it hasn't been designed very well in the first place. Even if they found the root cause, they would need to fix the instrument, go through a lot of environmental testing and even test the testing equipment itself to see if it works fine. Plus the rocket is already fully built and, from what I understood in yesterday's teleconference, fully assembled too. I don't think it's as simple as adding a booster or too. Someone yesterday, Grunsfeld if I recall correctly, stressed out that "we ordered a particular rocket in a particular configuration", implying that it can't be upgraded or things like that. In addition, they don't have much money left for the mission, so maybe it's economically impossibile to upgrade the rocket.

Plus, like @sgt_flyer was saying, launching out of the transfer window would mean reaching Mars at a different velocity and at a different angle. Becuase InSight will dive straight into Mars' atmosphere without slowing down into an orbit before, those two parameters (velocity and angle) will be critical, and InSight might not have enough Delta V to correct them if they don't launch during the window.

Edited by Frida Space
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From my point of view, this is a lose lose situation for NASA. If they had gone ahead with the normal launch then they risked a malfunction on route to Mars or even on the surface that could shut down the entire mission but delaying this mission by 26 months leaves this mission exposed to the bureaucracy back here on Earth. For one the director of this mission said that they had almost spent all their money already and were not sure whether or not they will be able to continue to fund if for the next 2 years. To further compound this problem, next year is an election year with a new administration definitely coming into power, who knows what the government will be doing in 2 years.

Unfortunately I believe that this mission will go the way of James Webb Telescope and will be stuck in development hell until the plug is unofficially pulled.    

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Interesting article by Vane Kane:

Quote

...

For the longer term, InSight's problems could have two effects on the pace of future Discovery missions. If the mission is canceled, there are no additional costs associated with it and almost $150M in future InSight costs are avoided. Five proposed missions are currently being evaluated for selection in approximately nine months. NASA's managers have stated that they would like to select two of those missions if they possibly can. If InSight is canceled, then NASA has additional funds to apply to the next next mission or missions selected next September.

If NASA decides not to cancel InSight, then the space agency will have new costs associated with the storage and later recommissioning of the spacecraft and possibly higher costs for the launch. In addition, the costs of operating the mission will be pushed forward into 2018 to 2020 when the peak funding for the development of the next Discovery missions is required. (NASA can't simply bank the money it would have spent on InSight from 2016 to 2018. That money would either need to be spent on other missions or returned to the general federal budget. The federal government works on a spend-as-you-go basis.) The likely result is that NASA would be able to select just one new Discovery mission this coming September. One of my correspondents tells me that just last week NASA's manager for its planetary program, Jim Green, said at a scientific conference that he hoped to select two Discovery missions in September unless InSight is delayed.

No matter how you look at it, InSight's problems seem likely to cause NASA to fly one fewer Discovery mission. Either InSight is canceled or NASA selects just one Discovery mission from the current competition.

 

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1 minute ago, RuBisCO said:

Well maybe two years more they can add some experiments, maybe more cameras at least!

No, the design is already complete. They want to save the money to make sure it stays as close to the cost cap as possible. And doesn't it already have a camera?

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On December 22, 2015 at 0:49 PM, Jeanjvs said:

It was the FIRST time i ever managed to put my name on the little chip they put on the probe and now this happens?? :mad:

Yeah, No Kidding!

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6 minutes ago, fredinno said:

No, the design is already complete. They want to save the money to make sure it stays as close to the cost cap as possible. And doesn't it already have a camera?

One BW camera for the arm, one on the side, no downward looking landing camera, no color. PR is breed and butter, less pictures = less people interested = less senators and representatives interested = less funding. If they are going to cancel a whole discover mission for this might as well use the extra money.

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2 hours ago, RuBisCO said:

One BW camera for the arm, one on the side, no downward looking landing camera, no color. PR is breed and butter, less pictures = less people interested = less senators and representatives interested = less funding. If they are going to cancel a whole discover mission for this might as well use the extra money.

I agree that they could at least use a colour camera, but this is a lost cause. The paperwork NASA would need to do (because pork) to make such a change after the spacecraft was literally compete would not really be worth it. It at least HAS a camera- the EXOMARS 2018 lander does not have one. At all.

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