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MAVEN gets the green light to go to the red planet

October 13, 2010
David Mitchell and Bruce Jakosky at GSFC

The MAVEN Project Manager David Mitchell (left) and Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky stand in front of the sign welcoming the team onto Goddard Space Flight Center the day following the Confirmation Review held at NASA HQ.

The MAVEN mission was confirmed to go forward at a review held at NASA HQ last week.  This is the formal decision by NASA to implement the mission, and allows us to make the transition from a mission “in formulation” to one “in development”.

I was a little nervous going into the review, mainly because it was in front of the senior management of the NASA Science Mission Directorate and because the stakes were so high.  However, I felt that we were well prepared for this review for two reasons.

First, we had done our technical and programmatic work as a team.  The mission was well developed at this stage, technically sound, and ready to move forward.  Second, we had had preliminary reviews of the same material with the Mars Program Office (at JPL, overseeing all of the Mars missions), the GSFC Center Management Council (consisting of the senior directors at the center), and the Mars Exploration Program at NASA HQ.  Based on these discussions, I felt that all of the issues that were likely to come up had been raised and addressed in advance.

With confirmation, MAVEN is now ready to move into what is called Phase C, the final design stage.  This phase culminates in the Critical Design Review, to be held in July 2011.  At that time, the design of all of the components will be essentially final.  Following that, we start the serious building of hardware.  Of course, some components are already being ordered, and hardware built, even now.  But the bulk of the assembly follows CDR.

With just over three years to go until launch, we’re on track and on schedule.  Congratulations to the whole MAVEN team on successful completion of Phase B and on moving forward into Phase C!  We’ll be at Mars sooner than we think!

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