CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – NASA’s next Mars mission is still alive.
The space agency said Wednesday it’s shooting for a 2018 launch of the Mars Insight spacecraft. The robotic lander was supposed to lift off this month, but was grounded in December by a leak in a French instrument. Managers say the instrument should be redesigned in time.
May 2018 represents the next available launch window. Mars windows arise just every two years.
InSight aims to study the interior of Mars. The sensors for the French seismometer need to operate in a vacuum chamber in order to measure subtle ground movements. The vacuum chamber was leaking.
It’s unknown how much the two-year delay will cost. NASA’s only other option was to kill the project.
Europe is launching its own Mars-landing mission Monday from Kazakhstan.