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NASA Reinstates The Dawn Mission

Subject: NASA Reinstates The Dawn Mission
Date: 27 Mar 2006 11:56:46 -0800
Newsgroups: sci.astro, alt.sci.planetary
March 27, 2006

Erica Hupp/Dean Acosta
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-1237/1400

RELEASE: 06-108


NASA senior management announced a decision Monday to reinstate the
Dawn mission, a robotic exploration of two major asteroids. Dawn had
been canceled because of technical problems and cost overruns.

The mission, named because it was designed to study objects dating
from the dawn of the solar system, would travel to Vesta and Ceres,
two of the largest asteroids orbiting the sun between Mars and
Jupiter. Dawn will use an electric ion propulsion system and orbit
multiple objects.

The mission originally was approved in December 2001 and was set for
launch in June 2006. Technical problems and other difficulties
delayed the projected launch date to July 2007 and pushed the cost
from its original estimate of $373 million to $446 million. The
decision to cancel Dawn was made March 2, 2006, after about $257
million already had been spent. An additional expenditure of about
$14 million would have been required to terminate the project.

The reinstatement resulted from a review process that is part of new
management procedures established by NASA Administrator Michael
Griffin. The process is intended to help ensure open debate and
thorough evaluation of major decisions regarding space exploration
and agency operations.

"We revisited a number of technical and financial challenges and the
work being done to address them," said NASA Associate Administrator
Rex Geveden, who chaired the review panel. "Our review determined the
project team has made substantive progress on many of this mission's
technical issues, and, in the end, we have confidence the mission
will succeed."

The Dawn decision document will be available on the Web at: 


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