InSight Begins Construction for Mars
The next surface visitor to Mars got the green light today to begin construction for a launch and landing in 2016. InSight is a static experimental platform that will conduct tests on the geology of Mars in an attempt to learn more about the history of the planet.
The platform is based on the successful 2008 Phoenix mission which means we’ll see a parachute-and-retrorocket descent with a soft landing at its final destination.
This is actually a pretty cool change for NASA. Mars missions have been filled with new technology in an attempt to bring heavier payloads to the surface but we’ve finally found a few platforms that we can reuse. Even the next Mars rover is based on the mobile Curiosity platform, sky crane landing and all.
That said, spaceflight is a dangerous business even with a few successes under your belt. The Russian Proton rocket has launched almost 400 times since 1964 and yet failed to bring a satellite into orbit just last week.