NASA announced on Wednesday that it has moved back it's next unmanned mission to Mars to 2018, after a component of the Mars spacecraft was found to have a leak in its key science instrument.
The InSight mission — which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — is scheduling a new expected launch window beginning May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018, according to NASA. The goal of the mission is to analyze the deep interior of Mars to determine how "rocky planets planets — including Earth — formed and evolved."
"The science goals of InSight are compelling, and the plans to overcome the technical challenges are sound," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA, in a press release. "The quest to understand the interior of Mars has been a longstanding goal of planetary scientists for decades. We're excited to be back on the path for a launch, now in 2018."
Scientists will redesign the science instrument, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, that failed in December.
The cost of the delay is being assessed by both NASA and Centre National d'Études Spatiales, France's national space agency. The InSight spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. It was delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in December 2015, and returned to Lockheed Martin's Colorado facility last month for storage until spacecraft preparations resume in 2017, according to NASA press release on Wednesday.