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Space Policy Edition: What went wrong with Mars Sample Return

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NASA’s Mars Sample Return mission was supposed to be lean, fast, and focused — no extra science instruments, no dedicated communications systems, and launching in 2026. But the effort has foundered under its own complexity and mismanagement. MSR’s total cost is likely to double to $10 billion or more and not launch until 2030 at the earliest. This month’s guest, Orlando Figueroa, chaired an independent review board which recently evaluated this project and identified management failures, unexpected design complexities, and external events such as the war in Ukraine as contributing to MSR’s difficulties. We review the board’s conclusions and recommendations for how NASA can fix MSR’s problems and ensure a successful return of the samples already selected by the Perseverance rover. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/spe-what-went-wrong-with-msr

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Planetary Radio brings you the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. We visit each wee 
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