Mars Reconsidered

Two fiascos in a row may force NASA to rethink the idea that faster, cheaper spacecraft are always better

For most of the 1990s, NASA's Dan Goldin has come across as the very model of a modern government administrator. Facing criticism that the space agency was wasting money, Goldin declared at the start of his tenure that he would turn the problem into an opportunity, finding ways to do more with less--and to all appearances, the strategy was working. The Mars Pathfinder Lander, built for a tenth the cost of its predecessors, riveted the nation's attention in 1997 with its live feed from the Red Planet's surface. And three years after its arrival Mars Global Surveyor is still sending back...

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