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NASA announced Friday that it will award contracts to seven companies, including SpaceX and Blue Origin, to study how to transport rock samples from Mars more cheaply back to Earth.

The space agency put out a call to industry in April to propose ideas on how to return the Mars rocks to Earth for less than $11 billion and before 2040, the cost and schedule for NASA's existing plan for Mars Sample Return (MSR). A NASA spokesperson told Ars the agency received 48 responses to the solicitation and selected seven companies to conduct more detailed studies.

Each company will receive up to $1.5 million for their 90-day studies. Five of the companies chosen by NASA are among the agency's roster of large contractors, and their inclusion in the study contracts is no surprise. Two other winners are smaller businesses.

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T-7 hours until the first crewed launch of Starliner!

Launch thread with additional info has been posted over on [email protected]:

Starliner CFT Launch Thread! (First crewed flight of Boeing Starliner capsule)

I will be posting updates there. Come join us in that thread!

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cross-posted from: https://lemmy.world/post/14947835

After concurring with each of the six recommendations in the inspector general's report, Koerner made the following comment:

"NASA is dedicated to continuous enhancement of our processes and procedures to ensure safety and address potential risks and deficiencies," she wrote. "However, the redundancy in the above recommendations does not help to ensure whether NASA’s programs are organized, managed, and implemented economically, effectively, and efficiently."

A careful reading of the second sentence reveals that Koerner feels that the inspector general's efforts are both redundant and unhelpful. This is not accidental language. Koerner's response was certainly reviewed by NASA's senior managers, who could have flagged and removed the text. And yet they went through with it.

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Nuclear-powered double-quadcopter. (octacopter?)

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NASA

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