Mars Express to benefit from 'strong heritage and proven technologies'
6 October 1999The low cost of Mars Express will have "no impact on the mission's success", Philippe Moulinier, Manager of the Division for New Generation Programmes at Matra Marconi Space, Toulouse, told a session of the 50th International Astronautical Congress in Amsterdam on Monday. Moulinier has overall responsibility for the Mars Express contract at MMS, the prime contractor. He was presenting information in support of a talk given by Rudi Schmidt, Mars Express Project Manager at ESTEC.*
To meet the cost constraints with no increase in risk, MMS has "chosen a limited number of spacecraft elements" with a "strong heritage and proven technologies." Final payment will only be made if the spacecraft is working well in its final orbit. "The fixed price is to some extent dependent on success," said Moulinier. Schmidt told the meeting: "ESA is adopting a hands-off approach to building Mars Express. We have a small team and we're minimising our interfaces with the scientific team and with industry. We have confidence and trust in our prime contractor. Mars Express is the first European mission to Mars, so we can't tolerate failure." The talk was delivered to a session on small planetary missions. Some of the other missions discussed, such as ESA's SMART 1 and NASA's Deep Space 1, have the main aim of developing new, risky technologies for use in future programmes of missions. Others, such as CONTOUR, a US mission, and Muses-C, a Japanese mission, will do planetary science, with comets and asteroids being the most popular destinations.
* Rudi Schmidt's talk was based on an article that appeared in the ESA Bulletin