Space Exploration:

Cost, Schedule, and Performance of NASA's Mars Observer Mission

NSIAD-88-137FS: Published: May 27, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 6, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information regarding the cost, schedule, performance, and status of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Mars Observer mission.

GAO found that NASA: (1) started the mission in 1985, with an estimated total project cost of $292.5 million; (2) increased its estimate to $513.8 million in October 1987, citing costs relating to future mission studies, engineering and technical assistance, communications band development, and altimeter support; (3) changed its scheduled launch date from 1990 to 1992, citing the number of other scheduled planetary missions and funding constraints; (4) expects to achieve its mission objectives of exploring Mars' geology, topography, and climatology; and (5) plans to expand the mission in several areas, including magnetic field measurement, testing of deep space communications frequencies and equipment, and photography.

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