Back to the shop. NASA's InSight Mars lander spacecraft in a Lockheed Martin clean room near Denver. Marscraft had been sent to launch site, but its March 2016 liftoff has been called off. Credit: Lockheed Martin Space Systems

Back to the shop. NASA’s InSight Mars lander spacecraft in a Lockheed Martin clean room near Denver. Marscraft had been sent to launch site, but its March 2016 liftoff has been called off.
Credit: Lockheed Martin Space Systems

After thorough examination, NASA managers have decided to call off the planned March 2016 launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission. The decision follows unsuccessful attempts to repair a leak in a section of the prime instrument in the science payload.

A leak that previously had

InSight's robot arm would have deployed sensitive Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) (white object in foreground). Credit: NASA/JPL

InSight’s robot arm would have deployed sensitive Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) (white object in foreground).
Credit: NASA/JPL

prevented the seismometer from retaining vacuum conditions was repaired, and the mission team was hopeful the most recent fix also would be successful. However, during testing on Monday in extreme cold temperature (-49 degrees Fahrenheit/-45 degrees Celsius) the instrument again failed to hold a vacuum.

NASA officials determined there is insufficient time to resolve another leak, and complete the work and thorough testing required to ensure a successful mission.

 

The spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, was delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, on Dec. 16. With the 2016 launch canceled, the spacecraft will be returned from Vandenberg to Lockheed’s facility in Denver.

From Lockheed Martin, a statement on the InSight decision:

“We share NASA’s conviction that the top priority on any mission is to ensure it’s done right, and we stand ready to support the next steps on InSight in any way we can. Our team worked hard to get the InSight spacecraft built, tested and shipped to the launch site on schedule. Although InSight won’t launch in March as planned, we will work closely with NASA, JPL and their partners to map out the path forward for the spacecraft and its important mission. The InSight lander and its advanced scientific instruments are crucial to our understanding of how Mars and other rocky planets in the solar system formed. Like all Mars missions, it will also provide important knowledge and technological advancements to support future space exploration efforts.”

 

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