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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Dec 1 2005, 12:11 AM
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Excerpt from a News article by Jenny Hogan in the December 1, 2005, issue of Nature:

"The [funding] situation has led to speculation that BepiColombo, a mission destined for a 2013 launch to Mercury, might be cancelled. 'That is the big danger painted in the sky,' says Karl-Heinz Glassmeier, principal investigator on one of the instruments proposed for the spacecraft.

"Nerves were set jangling about the project, which also involves the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, after it was postponed because the initial design was too heavy. That problem seems to have been solved, but officials say the estimated cost of the mission, at 600 million [euros] to 650 million [euros], is still more than 100 million [euros] above target."

Reference:

Europe's cash crisis puts space plans under threat
Jenny Hogan
Nature 438, 542-543 (2005)
doi:10.1038/438542a
Full Text
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Dec 12 2005, 09:25 PM
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B.C. seems to be out of danger for the moment. http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051205/full/051205-7.html :

"The budget decisions boost ESA's science programme, which will get the full 2.1 billion it requested. This translates to a budget that will go up by 2.5% a year over the next five years. And it is enough to allay fears that flagship missions would be cancelled in the face of budget shortfalls (see 'Europe's cash crisis puts space plans under threat')."

Also: "ExoMars secured more money than was asked for: the mission might now be enhanced by adding more instruments or a companion orbiter."
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Mariner9
post Dec 13 2005, 06:26 PM
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Well I sure hope so. BepiColombo is the European equivalent to the Europa Orbiter and the Pluto mission. Endlessly studied, redefined, redesigned, rescoped and so on over the last ten years. I think it was originally proposed in 1994 or there abouts.

Over the last few years I watched as the launch date went from 2009 to 2011 to 2012 .... I've lost track where it is at this point.
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peter59
post Dec 13 2005, 10:34 PM
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Don't be astonished. It's typical for ESA - European Co(s)mic Agency


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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Dec 15 2005, 03:14 AM
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The Dec. 5 Aviation Week (published prior to the cavalry coming at least temporarily to the rescue) reports that the two ESA science missions in the most danger are BepiColombo and Solar Orbiter, simply because their overruns are biggest -- BC is 150 million Euros over budget and its launch has slipped two years to 2013. (Solar Orbiter is now set for 2014.)

GAIA is in less danger; it's only 40 million Euros over budget (mere chicken feed) and its launch date has in fact advanced to 2011.

"Aggravating the shortfall is the agency's current risk-averse approach that saves money up front -- major missions are now expected to cost just 450 million Euros, half the cost of previous ones -- but tends to add costs later, when it's more difficult to turn things around, according to [David] Southwood. A case in point is Herschel-Planck, to be launched in late 2007, which is suffering from a 180 million Euro overrun...

"[Southwood] insisted that solutions could yet be found to prevent the ax from falling. For example, Russia is negotiating to launch BepiColombo on a Soyuz booster if the mission can be modified to include a Russian lander. Although ESA is loath to make such a change at this stage of the project, the agency might be willing to do so if the solution is a 'win-win one,' says Southwood."
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Dec 15 2005, 09:33 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Dec 12 2005, 09:25 PM)
B.C. seems to be out of danger for the moment. http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051205/full/051205-7.html

I've delayed replying because I've been hearing through the grapevine that BepiColombo may still be at risk, notwithstanding the recently announced 2.5% increase over the next five years to ESA's Science Programme. BepiColombo's cost overruns, even with the de-scope in dropping the MSE lander and the delay in launch date, remain troubling.

And Daniel Clery's news article ("ESA Hits the Right Note, and Funding Flows") in the December 16, 2005, issue of Science hints that BepiColombo may not be out of the woods yet:

"Cost overruns in several missions over the past few years have put the science program under severe pressure. It forced the cancellation of the Eddington planet-hunting mission in 2003 (Science, 14 November 2003, p. 1130) and put the BepiColombo mission to Mercury under threat. The program 'was facing a major crisis,' says space scientist Mark Sims of the University of Leicester, U.K. Last week's reversal 'makes many difficulties go away but not all of them,' he adds. Southwood says the program will host a meeting of researchers in January to plan future priorities; in February, ESA's Science Program Committee will meet to decide which of four missions on the program's roster--Solar Orbiter, BepiColombo, the Gaia star-mapper, and LISA, a gravitational-wave interferometer--will get the go-ahead."

This post has been edited by AlexBlackwell: Dec 16 2005, 01:18 AM
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Dec 16 2005, 04:36 AM
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That Aviation Week article adds that LISA is also on somewhat better footing than BepiColombo and Solar Orbiter.
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Jan 30 2006, 06:25 PM
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From the January 30, 2006, issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology (World News & Analysis):

ESA Poised to Approve Planet-Finding, Mercury Missions
Aviation Week & Space Technology
01/30/2006, page 35

Michael A. Taverna
Paris

"European Space Agency planners say they may not have to scrub or pare back a major planned science mission.

[...]

"According to [Henk] Olthof [head of science programs], the two missions most under threat, the Gaia star-mapping probe and BepiColombo Mercury flight, are both expected to receive a green light at the next science program board on Feb. 8-9. Gaia, intended for launch in 2011, has already gone through tender evaluation, and managers will propose at an industry policy committee meeting this week that the mission be awarded to EADS Astrium. Planners are still trying to figure out how to fit in BepiColombo, targeted for a 2013 launch. But they expect to be in a position to tender it later this year, and to select a supplier in the third or fourth quarter.

"Olthof says the agency has heeded lessons from previous large missions, which suffered big overruns due to unrealistic funding. The budget envelope will be 550 million euros ($673 million) for Gaia and 650 million euros for BepiColombo--versus 450 million euros previously allocated to large missions."
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The Messenger
post Jan 30 2006, 06:54 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Dec 15 2005, 09:36 PM)
That Aviation Week article adds that LISA is also on somewhat better footing than BepiColombo and Solar Orbiter.
*

Should LISA still be funded, if the current (S5) LIGO run continues to roll snake eyes? If we are certain we can achieve a couple of orders of magnitude of higher resolution I would say yes, but it seems to me that this would be a daunting challenge, in space.
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jamescanvin
post Jan 30 2006, 11:27 PM
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QUOTE (The Messenger @ Jan 31 2006, 05:54 AM)
Should LISA still be funded, if the current (S5) LIGO run continues to roll snake eyes? If we are certain we can achieve a couple of orders of magnitude of higher resolution I would say yes, but it seems to me that this would be a daunting challenge, in space.
*


Deja vu! - We've already had this conversation! tongue.gif wink.gif

From this thread

QUOTE (The Messenger @ Sep 6 2005, 03:28 AM)
One more question about LISA - unless and until the current LIGO generation of gravity antenna detect ANY gravitational phenomena, should we be vesting in another experiment? IAOTO the waves do exist, but we may be searching with the wrong kind of antenna.



QUOTE (jamescanvin @ Sep 6 2005, 11:17 AM)
Well LISA will be serching in a completely different frequency band. A band which should include waves from binary neutron stars which pretty much must exists given current observations (and at a known amplitude), unlike LIGO which can only detect much more exotic and theoretical objects and mergers. So yes I do think it's worth investing in, even given the non-detections at LIGO.



QUOTE (The Messenger @ Sep 6 2005, 04:53 PM)
Damn! I'll say we need LISA, yesterday, not too many years from now. Any chance of  bumping LISA ahead of PLANCK? The CMB has a local contamination issue that needs to be resolved to reathenticate, if possible, the accuracy of the WMAP results. 

But A drag-free triangulated laser ranged probe orbiting the Sun will also provide constraints upon Pioneer-like acceleration anomalies if they effect lasar ranging.
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ljk4-1
post Feb 16 2006, 02:29 PM
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MERCURY RISING

- The SIXS Instrument By Finnish Astronomers Goes To Mercury

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/The_SIXS...To_Mercury.html

Helsinki, Finland (ESA) Feb 16, 2006 - The European Space Agency (ESA) is
launching a mission to Mercury, in which there is significant Finnish involvement.

On Thursday 9 February 2006, the Science Programme Committee of the ESA
held a meeting to approve the agency's next cornerstone programme, the
spacecraft named BepiColombo, which is due to be launched towards Mercury
in 2013.


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Mariner9
post Feb 17 2006, 05:32 PM
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The article at Spacedaily states that the spacecraft is launched in 2013, and the primary data return is 2018-2020.

This makes it a roughly 5 year trip to Mercury orbit. The last time I read a mission overview the timeline was only about 3 years to Mercury orbit, a quick flight made possible by the inclusion of a solar powered ion propulsion unit on the spacecraft. Presumably this extra delta-v allowed them to avoid the MESSENGER method of multiple Venus and Mercury flybys.

What happened? Is the ion drive unit dropped from the mission?
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 17 2006, 05:41 PM
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QUOTE (Mariner9 @ Feb 17 2006, 05:32 PM) *
The article at Spacedaily states that the spacecraft is launched in 2013, and the primary data return is 2018-2020.

This makes it a roughly 5 year trip to Mercury orbit. The last time I read a mission overview the timeline was only about 3 years to Mercury orbit, a quick flight made possible by the inclusion of a solar powered ion propulsion unit on the spacecraft. Presumably this extra delta-v allowed them to avoid the MESSENGER method of multiple Venus and Mercury flybys.

What happened? Is the ion drive unit dropped from the mission?

The mission design has changed over the past few years as the payload (MSE dropped) and launch vehicle (Soyuz-Fregat vs. Ariane 5) were decided. Check the BepiColombo fact sheet for a few details. In short, ion propulsion is still baselined for the cruise phase; however, gravity assists from Earth, Venus, and Mercury are planned. Sound familiar? In fact, I think there was once (and still may be) an option for a lunar gravity assist with Soyuz-Fregat in addition to the others.
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 17 2006, 10:16 PM
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QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Feb 17 2006, 05:41 PM) *
The mission design has changed over the past few years as the payload (MSE dropped) and launch vehicle (Soyuz-Fregat vs. Ariane 5) were decided. Check the BepiColombo fact sheet for a few details. In short, ion propulsion is still baselined for the cruise phase; however, gravity assists from Earth, Venus, and Mercury are planned. Sound familiar? In fact, I think there was once (and still may be) an option for a lunar gravity assist with Soyuz-Fregat in addition to the others.

Here's an updated status report, which is to be presented at the EGU General Assembly 2006.
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 12 2007, 06:21 PM
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A couple of tidbits from, respectively, the February 5, 2007, and February 12, 2007, issues of Aviation Week & Space Technology:

QUOTE
News Breaks
Europe
The European Space Agency
Aviation Week & Space Technology
02/05/2007, page 17

The European Space Agency will split a 329-million ($424.4-million) prime contract for Bepi Colombo Mercury mission, the agency's next major science project, between Astrium and Alcatel Alenia Space. Astrium Germany will be overall prime contractor, with Astrium U.K. and Alcatel Alenia Italy as co-primes, says Jacques Louet, ESA's director of science projects. But Astrium Germany will shoulder the full program risk under a "political expedient" approved last week by ESA's industrial policy committee. The green light for the 665-million mission is to be given by ESA's science program board later this month, along with a call for ideas for the next round of science missions planned for 2015-25. Three large (650-million) and three medium (300-million) missions are expected to be proposed for the tender, expected to be realized in October. The first, a medium mission, would be launched around 2017. To ensure approval, Louet said, science planners will propose 200 million in cuts through 2015. The bulk of the savings--110 million--will come by offering to merge ESA's Solar Orbiter mission with NASA's four-satellite Sentinel project, eliminating one Sentinel and carrying the four remaining units aloft on the same launcher, with shared instrument packages.

Excerpt from

QUOTE
ESA Plans for New Science Missions Facing Renewed Budget Turmoil
Aviation Week & Space Technology
02/12/2007, page 33

Michael A. Taverna
Cannes
Douglas Barrie
London

A European Space Agency plan to draw up a slate of new missions for its Cosmic Vision science program is facing renewed turmoil over budgets.

[...]

These hiccups threaten to overshadow the go-ahead for the BepiColombo Mercury mission, approved late last month (AW&ST Feb. 5, p. 17). The continuing difficulties with the science program have prompted an external review, due to be completed by mid-year. The outcome is likely to shape, and possibly recast, the Cosmic Vision initiative, kicked off in 2002 to overcome organizational and budget shortcomings with the previous Horizons/Horizons-Plus program (AW&ST June 3, 2002, p. 33). One thing is already clear, officials say: Under the second phase of Cosmic Vision, the rate of new mission launches will be pushed back to one every 18 months, compared with one every 12 months under the current setup.


EDIT: Since the BepiColombo has the green light, I changed the thread title.

This post has been edited by AlexBlackwell: Feb 12 2007, 06:23 PM
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