Comments for en-gb 30 Sun 31 Aug 2014 02:20:06 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at JonClarke I should point out that the "SpaceDaily" article highly critical of Beagle 2 was in fact an opinion piece by Jeff Bell, a retired scientist from Hawaii, and IMHO long on personal insults and short on facts.I am reluctant to give it any more publicity but people but since it has mntioned here as authorative, people should read it for themselves and decide whether or not it is factual and rational. Tue 21 Dec 2010 10:06:25 GMT+1 Stuart Following on from comment 33. above it should also be noted that:a) Mars Express at launch had a mass margin of >50 kg which was used to fill the propellant tanks and allow MEx to last until ~2018 instead of the planned 2009. Repeated requests for extra mass by Beagle 2 project were rejected by ESA due to insufficient mission mass margin (ESA never mentioned this at the Commission of Inquiry - I wonder why !) b) Mechanical interface loads (Shock, Vibration, strength etc.) allocated to Beagle 2 by MEx project at ESA were reduced by a factor of 10 (after Beagle 2 had been designed) because of an apparent mis-calculation (this from the self-professed experts, the professionals, the people that the UK Gov't should leave the exploration of space to). So Beagle 2 was over-designed for the final loads and hence used more mass than necessary, but since it was already designed, mass reduction was not possible.Bitter, moi ?? Never. Tue 23 Nov 2010 14:34:23 GMT+1 Stuart Does anyone else share my opinion that the contrast between the current 2016 ExoMars mission and the Mars Express/Beagle 2 situation back in 1997 - 2003 is EXTREME and shows ESA in a very bad light ?1. 2016 ExoMars Lander Demonstrator (EDM) It is currently 600kg; is due to land during the Global Dust Storm season and survive for 1 sol (day). It has a few hundred grams of Science instruments to study the Martian atmosphere and a Camera. Cost is not known but expected to be in hundreds of millions of Euros (from ESA budget).Separation from the Orbiter will be less than 3 days before landing.Compare this with :-2. 2003 Beagle 2 When Colin persuaded ESA in the 90's that they should take a lander on their planned Orbiter (Mars Express) and try to do some 'real' Science, they allocated him 60kg and no money (They said it was an 'Instrument' and hence should be nationally funded).Not only that, but they said they could not release Beagle 2 any later than 5.5 days (1.5 million km) away from Mars, and at that time nothing, neither NASA nor ESA Orbiters nor even Earth-based Radio Telescopes would be in a position to listen for a radio signal from Beagle 2 until after it was on the surface. This was after NASA, having just lost two Mars Missions (Climate Orbiter and Polar Lander) in quick succession, had mandated that ALL future lander missions should employ a radio beacon during the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) phase AND ensure at least one Orbiter and one Earth-based telscope were in a position to hear the radio signal. This was to ensure that some data was available in event of a crash-landing in order to determine the possible cause. Mon 22 Nov 2010 14:21:08 GMT+1 callisto AllenT2Your account of the relationship between NASA and ESA is bothering me and its clear that you have no first hand dealings in the areas that the two Agencies (as well as China, Russia and India, as it happens) operate, both separately and in partnership.You were the one who brought up the competition between the two. I don't see science, whether interplanetary or Earth-related, as either competitive or commercial. In that you are right. So why do you imply that we are trying to somehow 'better' the US in these areas? Competition in space, such as that between the US and Russia for supremacy of space is a passe concept in this day and age, or so I would like to think.You must remember that the US space effort was borne of a push to gain military supremacy in space. That's what provided the cash and US paranoia provided the muscle. In that, Europe has no wish to 'follow' them.Europe has some notable firsts in space. I'll let you enjoy discovering those during your research. I think Europe and ESA does alright, both with and without NASA, considering they do not have the same budget levels and little military space ambition.I note with interest that you used Bungle to make your point, thus proving mine from earlier (much earlier) in the blog. Thanks for that.The 'investors' I speak of are National delegates who, at some point, act on taxpayers' wishes. Its not anything like the Senate free-for-all that the US is more familiar with. Europe has its minor losses, but generally exceeds all expectations with high quality (innovative) missions and budgetary policies, backed up with a top-class launch system.No, I do not work for EU/ESA or any other Agency. As a business owner, I work WITH the above, as well as NASA, JPL and other major US contractors. Sat 06 Nov 2010 15:28:57 GMT+1 AllenT2 callisto wrote:"Its very clear that you too are somewhat confused (or overtly bigoted) with your overview of the differences between ESA and NASA and ESA's objectives." I already outlined their biggest difference. Obviously you disagree. That's your right. I would suggest that you learn to accept a difference of opinion without having to resort to calling someone a bigot. It would help you come across as a more open mined, reasonable and tolerant person while eliminating any sense of irony for immediately calling a person a bigot that you simply disagree with. The fact is, all too often ESA and other Euro-centric organizations such as the EU, EADS, Airbus, etc, etc, copy projects that America has either already succeeded in or is currently working on to prove not just that they can do the same but to prove that they can do it better, ala the relationship the Soviet Union had with America during the Cold War and the propaganda they spewed with it. Anti-American sentiment that is often used as a rallying cry for further European integration extends to ESA's goals in space. America should be very wary about cooperating too much with such an organization or any so-called European organization. "1. NASA and America are being outdone already by China."Now that's funny. '2. ESA responds to its National investors in what it gets involved in, not politicians with short-term ulterior motives (you may need to look that term up)"As another person already pointed out ESA's "national investors" are it's politicians.It's "motives" are both "short-term and long term in accordance with what I have already stated and ultimately to lead and control many key industries that are currently led by America. Notice, I didn't include control on the later."3. The European space industry is all about value and perceived quality, not quantity. We try to meet all scientific objectives in as efficient way as possible."You mean the same kind of focus on "quality" that gives the go ahead for a half baked mission to Mars as an economical tag along? Right."We do not attempt to compete with NASA/JPL or America in space science."I'm just as dumfounded and speechless by such a remark as your China one. You also say "we" with a a rather interesting tone. You wouldn't happen to work for ESA, would you?"In telecom and Earth Observation, we are already well competitive." Why would you see something like "earth observation" that is benefiting the earth as something competitive with America?Thank you for helping me prove my point. You sure you don't work for ESA, or maybe the EU? ;) Sat 06 Nov 2010 08:02:03 GMT+1 callisto Atvaar,Contrary to your learned observation, I have no direct affiliation with ESA. And, I dare say, not everything on that Project was obsolete from the off.But thanks for the input ... Fri 05 Nov 2010 23:11:11 GMT+1 Atvaar Having just read through this blog for the first time, I have to challenge callisto's earlier statement "Technically it was obsolete before it took off. Ah, OK so you might wonder when you look at why the EDM "special material for thermal protection, a parachute system" share technology used by Beagle2. Spirit, Opportunity and Beagle2 all had a share in the same airbag technology, previously used by Pathfinder - maybe obsolete now, but not at the time.And of course ExoMars is not "bedevilled with funding issues".One last observation, the "scramble of amateur space geeks" were professional engineers & scientists with many, many years of experience in the UK and European space industry. Some respect would not go amiss. Fri 05 Nov 2010 21:13:53 GMT+1 Atvaar hmmm.... why do I get the impression that callisto, the lone voice here critical of Beagle2, has a strong affiliation with ESA.Oh, and who are ESA's national investors if not politicians? Fri 05 Nov 2010 20:07:44 GMT+1 callisto 26. AllenT2 .... you wrote "...ESA, an organization that on every level seeks to try and copy and outdo NASA and America to show how superior it is".Its very clear that you too are somewhat confused (or overtly bigoted) with your overview of the differences between ESA and NASA and ESA's objectives.I suggest you do a more objective review of available material and re-assess your views.A couple of points to note though ...1. NASA and America are being outdone already by China. 2. ESA responds to its National investors in what it gets involved in, not politicians with short-term ulterior motives (you may need to look that term up)3. The European space industry is all about value and perceived quality, not quantity. We try to meet all scientific objectives in as efficient way as possible. We do not attempt to compete with NASA/JPL or America in space science. In telecom and Earth Observation, we are already well competitive. Fri 05 Nov 2010 15:43:32 GMT+1 AllenT2 greenburn wrote: "Look at the USA, a report that NASA wants to send people on a one way trip to Mars is bad enough, but then they say it'll cost $7bn!Any country that can't feed it's hungry, treat it's sick, and house and clothe its poor has no right to be even thinking about embarking on space travel, the Space Station should be shut down and NASA disbanded.Their whole space program now is just a political ego trip, and I wonder if our much smaller effort will follow suit?"You don't know America nearly as well as you think about what it can and can't do.As for it's space goals, it's obviously up to Americans what they choose to do. And if you think NASA has an "ego trip" going on then you haven't been paying much attention to ESA, an organization that on every level seeks to try and copy and outdo NASA and America to show how superior it is. NASA and America does great things because there are great and challenging things to do while ESA and other Euro-centric organizations try to do great things to prove how much better they think they are compared to NASA, and America. Which is a more worthy motivation? Which one is about ego? Fri 05 Nov 2010 10:49:23 GMT+1 callisto Thanks Jeremy, that clearly puts an end to any further useful discussion on this post. Thu 04 Nov 2010 13:58:20 GMT+1 Mercedes Beagle-2 was shot down! Along with all the other Mars probes that fail to make it. Wed 03 Nov 2010 13:14:41 GMT+1 Stuart Stephen, about your questions in comments 11 and 18 - my replies are:No, that was the first suggested sighting from the MGS MOC images (1.5m/pixel)My evidence is based on the hi-res images from HiRISE on MRO (0.28m/pixel)after 2007. It has not been published because, against my better judgement I was persuaded by Colin and the rest of the 'search' team not to publish in case it destabilised attempts to get a Beagle-2 follow-on funded. (that did not happen)I am now happy to provide my evidence to anyone interested (incl editor of Spaceflight - whoever that is ?).My view on why UK is so poor at funding space exploration is that we are controlled by the city financial institutions and the civil service/Gov't to whom risk is a 'four-letterd-word' and any investment of longer than a year is over the horizon. The final cost of the Beagle-2 project was £42.5 million over a 2 year period, after 3+ years of persuasion by Colin and prevarication by Gov't/ESA. Compare this with the MER costs over 10 years of ~800M dollars at launch and 50M subsequently. (to this extent I agree with callisto)As for Skylon, there are millions of wonderful paper designs sitting on shelves gathering dust. When it actually does something I'll applaud it.Stuart,Stevenage Mon 01 Nov 2010 17:33:45 GMT+1 callisto Mark Stewart, I can't help but think that you've not been paying attention and have completely missed the point here.Greenburn, wrong post, wrong place, misguided view. Without forwarding society through technological innovation, we will not improve anyone's lifestyle, merely poor billions into welfare. Are you suggesting all vehicular, communication (space-borne included), renewable energy, exploration and infrastructure development cease? Time you joined the Taleban. Thu 28 Oct 2010 20:57:01 GMT+1 greenburn I question the benefits of space research and travel, yes there are some technical spin offs, but at what real cost?I think in times like this with the financial situation as it is we really need to question what we're doing, why are we doing it, what will we achieve and how much will it cost.Space tourism, fair enough if someone is wealthy enough go for it. Look at the USA, a report that NASA wants to send people on a one way trip to Mars is bad enough, but then they say it'll cost $7bn!Any country that can't feed it's hungry, treat it's sick, and house and clothe its poor has no right to be even thinking about embarking on space travel, the Space Station should be shut down and NASA disbanded.Their whole space program now is just a political ego trip, and I wonder if our much smaller effort will follow suit? Thu 28 Oct 2010 14:22:14 GMT+1 Mark Stewart Bravo, Stephen!Well said. Thu 28 Oct 2010 12:43:45 GMT+1 callisto Thank you Stephen, that's a much more conciliatory line. I think I probably agree that Prof Pillinger was a victim of prevailing circumstance and the Project had its fair share of bad luck.However, there is plenty of evidence that too much was tried 'on the cheap' to the detriment of a sound mission plan. MY point is that this, in any programme, is a fool-hardy approach, whether its Project or Investment Management at fault.If we try to cut too much at one time, we end up with a project in ribbons. This lesson needs to be learned for future attempts. Thu 28 Oct 2010 12:32:11 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Ah, Callisto, so in Colin Pillinger's place you too would have soldiered on? I'm very glad to hear it!We're not claiming Beagle-2 (the correct spelling, please note) was a success. We're praising Colin Pillinger for getting off his backside and getting out there, making something happen and arousing enormous public interest and approval. Shame on ESA and especially on Lord Sainsbury for their miserably inadequate support.I wonder whether what is at issue here is the plain fact that Beagle-2 ultimately failed? It came very close to success, that much is undeniable. With better weather on Mars (air pressure -- Colin Pillinger's theory) or random good luck regarding touchdown point rather than bad luck (Stuart Hurst's theory, if I understand him correctly) the probe would have worked as intended, and then all this criticism of its management would never have got started.Yes, Skylon is visionary, and potentially a world-beater. But it could still fall foul of penny-pinching lukewarm interest from governments that really want nothing to do with it, not to mention hostility from vested interests in throwaway rockets and in keeping spaceflight exclusive to the agencies. An early test flight could crash (compare the first crash of a fly-by-wire aircraft, an Airbus A320-100 in 1988), the programme halted and recriminations flung right, left and centre. Everyone would be saying that the programme should never have been started. But Alan Bond has no way of knowing whether this will happen, or whether Skylon will be the success he hopes. All he can do is to press forward as best he can.So my point is that an innovator does not know the outcome of his or her innovation. You have a certain view of how you want things to turn out, and you pursue that with all the resources at your disposal. But you can't control the sentiment of governments or markets any more than you can the weather on Mars!But such people make the future better than the past, and we owe them enormous respect.Colin Pillinger had the vision to see that you don't need a billion-euro, decade-long project to do useful science on Mars. He could have done it for less than 100 million pounds and I think about two years of development (Stuart, correct me please on those figures). I was struck later by his comment that ESA was getting away with huge delays to ExoMars, but that he was getting all the criticism despite bringing Beagle-2 in on time to a tight schedule.But in the end he was defeated by forces outside his control, and we are all the poorer for not following up on his initiative.StephenOxford Thu 28 Oct 2010 10:44:27 GMT+1 callisto Stephen,A quitter I am NOT and I didn't expect you, of all people, to jump to such cursory conclusions. Its not even about quitting. Its about seeing the reality of putting missions together for 10 quid and expecting them to provide a valuable return. If you want a UK success story look no further than HILASS, or Skylon. They are visionary. They are World-beaters.I don't know why you all think Bungle was so successful. Lets look forward to the next 'success', shall we? Tin hat, anyone?Clearly Prof Pillinger took you all to Mars with him. You are not on this Planet, that's for sure. Wed 27 Oct 2010 01:16:16 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Callisto, Beagle 2 was designed to achieve real space science, searching for signs of life in a more direct way than concurrent missions such as the two US rovers.Colin Pillinger is clearly, unlike you, not a quitter. The history of scientific and technological progress is full of people who stuck to their guns when the going got tough, and we've all benefited as a result.StephenOxford Wed 27 Oct 2010 00:17:51 GMT+1 callisto Michael, I find your comment slightly contentious. We are talking about useful space science here, not some nutter trying to go to US in a bath-tub.With "almost no resources and in the face of almost hostile indifference on the part of ESA", why was this mission even allowed to get off the drawing board, let alone the ground?What was it to achieve? Real space science, or to 'fly the flag' in some long-forgotten Albionist sort of way? To show that with "almost no resources and in the face of almost hostile indifference on the part of ESA", the UK could still put a lander on Mars?The UK can, and does, fight above its weight in space science. This eccentric little jaunt was not helpful to our cause and it must never happen again.Colin should have quit when he found himself with "almost no resources and in the face of almost hostile indifference on the part of ESA". Nobody in fact had the bottle to tell him ... Tue 26 Oct 2010 12:08:49 GMT+1 Michael Hanlon Callisto is, as Stuart says, entitled to his opinions, but they need to be refuted. There were certainly flaws with the Beagle mission, but it was no unmitigated disaster. Colin did a superb job with almost no resources and in the face of almost hostile indifference on the part of ESA. Tue 26 Oct 2010 08:02:19 GMT+1 callisto Good for you, Ched .. I'm very pleased the money wasn't completely wasted.I hope you enjoy your career in the industry - it is a great provider and can be a demanding mistress. All I ask is that you learn the lessons of the past, never be afraid to ask experienced peers for advice and, like the rest of us, strive for the 'perfect' mission.Good luck Mon 25 Oct 2010 16:45:32 GMT+1 Ched I'd just like to point out that one of the reasons why i joined the space industry at all was Beagle 2. It definately brought the space industry and, probably more importabtly, the UK space industry into my field of view. So from that perspective - it succeeded. Mon 25 Oct 2010 12:55:42 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Stuart, thank you for your correction -- I was aware of the Evolution and BeagleNet plans, so I suppose I meant that no successor was actually approved.This is all I've been able to turn up about Beagle 2 being found: this what you were referring to? Maybe you'd like to send something about it to the editor of Spaceflight?The view that Beagle was unlucky and hit a steep crater wall just underlines the point that one-off attempts are hopeless for planetary exploration. You need a series of probes to both capitalise on success and (when necessary) make a quick recovery from failure.With your intimate knowledge of the project, I wonder if you would agree with me that the political problem is this: that our political leaders have a strong, unreasoning aversion to the idea of Britain as an exploring nation or as a developer of transport technologies, despite our national identity having been formed very much from these elements over the time from say the Elizabethan period to the end of the Victorian period?Thanks -- and, thank you for trying with Beagle 2.StephenOxford Sun 24 Oct 2010 21:59:36 GMT+1 callisto Why would I want to buy a book just to read one page, Stuart? Hmmmm?I have nothing against Prof Pillinger, but I do wish you would stop waxing all sentimental about a programme that was doomed to fail and showed UK up for being a crowd of jovial, but harmless, eccentrics (at best) and a bunch of incompetent space wannabees (at worst).How would it have been if Darwins Beagle had left harbour, got to the Galapagos and hit a rock because the rudder had fallen off. Everyone in Britain would shrug, roll their eyes and say 'Oh well, at least we tried'? The investors would have had his guts.One thing, the only thing, that all our effort in the space sector revolves around, is placing the right hardware, in the right locale, and for it to work at least as well as its designed to. We must try to do that within financial limits. Please explain why Spirit and Opportunity managed to land and perform their missions infallibly and beyond the design life (by some margin), and not run into the target? Could it be because they had money spent on them, making sure they were well built, and well managed. Cheaper is not necessarily better.Perhaps NASA/JPL are just not seeing the point that failure is glory; under-hype and over-achievement is wasting sentiment; over-hype and under-achievement is much better news.Bungle crashed. It was nobody else's fault. The Project FAILED miserably: technically, financially and politically.Now if you (and Colin) can't see that, it is you who need coffee, with a dash of something to stop the headaches. Sat 23 Oct 2010 22:18:54 GMT+1 Stuart callisto, Colin suggests you read his book, make yourself a cup of coffee and refrain from writing any more comments until you get to page 335. Just in case, he suggests you read page 335 first.Have a good weekend.Stuart Hurst Fri 22 Oct 2010 08:14:22 GMT+1 Stuart callisto, I'll refrain from engaging in a slanging match on the web with someone who won't identify himself.Suffice it to say that you have demonstrated to my satisfaction the veracity of Steven Hawking's Theory - of parallel universes.PS. You are in a very, very small minority. Thu 21 Oct 2010 19:31:43 GMT+1 callisto Well, Stuart, where to start? 1. Comparing my Company's credentials to Astrium's (not the other manifestations - the best Company I have ever worked with is BAe) will sadly not prove anything. We operate in the same industry, but our Quality processes are far more resolute than theirs. This clownish act would not have been supported by my Company.2. The evidence of a leaking airbag is in the mysterious traces of exotic gas found around MEx that disappeared after Bungle was released - the same gas as was in the airbag, in fact.3. Your connections in NASA are clearly not the same as mine. But the SpaceDaily critique is there for all to see.4. I cannot answer as to why experts weren't hired to do the job. But its good of you to admit they weren't.Space science in Europe is not for sentimentality. We do not have the luxury to valiantly try and fail - that is a sure fire way to lose investment interest. That is why we have developed robust Quality protocols and highly trained personnel, to raise reliability and confidence in our abilities. As I say, Bungle was a kick in the teeth. Inspirational? Get a life. Thu 21 Oct 2010 17:02:15 GMT+1 Stuart I feel that Callisto's comments are so far from the truth that it is almost not worth responding - but not quite. He/She is entitled to his/her views but.....Perhaps he would care to compare his Company's credentials with Astrium/MMS/British Aerospace ?Perhaps he would care to share with us the evidence that "the airbags leaked (and thats why it crashed)" and "the module was launched defective and the design was dysfunctional". THERE IS NO SUCH EVIDENCE ! It passed an ESA Flight Acceptance Review and the Commission of Inquiry found no evidence for the cause of loss of communication.Has he not heard of, or understood the word 'Inspirational'. Beagle 2 was - MEx wasn't.NASA certainly were not laughing at us, they were supporting us all the way, both before and after the 'landing'.And finally perhaps he can tell us who these 'design and build' experts are and who is the 'competent team' that will manage a future UK attempt. Why were they not involved in the first place ?It is easy to stand on the sidelines and carp, but I would prefer a million times to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. The NASA way is to learn from mistakes/failures; fix them and try again. eg. Apollo, Shuttle etc.There is no progress unless somebody tries new things, even if they fail. Thu 21 Oct 2010 11:28:46 GMT+1 callisto I do not share your enthusiasm at the tragedy of Bungle and I do not see Colin Pillinger as anything approaching a space pioneer.The whole episode was an embarrassment and a kick in the teeth to those in the UK space industry that are trying to compete against developed competitors.The program was conducted in the shoddiest manner; it was bedevilled with funding issues and became a political leper. It was an unmitigated disaster and I hope it will NEVER be repeated in my remaining time as a UK space contractor.Colin Pillinger resembled 'The Laughing Gnome' at times and it would have been better served if Terry Wogan had fronted the effort: it certainly would have got more money. It became the space version of 'Big Brother' and it was cringeworthy at best.Technically it was obsolete before it took off. It was a scramble of amateur space geeks pretending to be good at something, but not being taught how to do the job. The airbag leaked (that's why it crashed). The module was launched defective and the design was dysfunctional. The fact Astrium were Project Managers just about sums it up. And nobody mentions the success of MEX, despite carrying the British pauper corpse all the way to Mars.The US were laughing so much, they nearly cried. One correspondent on Space Daily said that Bungle justified spending money on exploration.If the UK is going to attempt something like this again, get the funding, get experts to design and build it, and get a competent team to manage it. Wed 20 Oct 2010 20:49:02 GMT+1 Stuart Stephen is completely correct about the 'one-off' nature of ESA (and UK) missions. But don't forget Colin had to force HMG into supporting Beagle 2 at all. Then only partially.Also ESA wanted a step-by-step Mars exploration program leading to men on Mars (called Aurora) but budget cuts kept reducing it repeatedly until only ExoMars (2016 and 2018), shared with NASA, is left.Further, it is not true that successors to Beagle 2 were not planned. I helped Colin propose 3 further missions, based on the original design called Beagle 2007, Beagle 2 Evolution and finally BeagleNET. None were supported by UK Gov't.They kept to their motto "If at first you don't succeed, go and do something else"Finally, I get really annoyed by reports that Beagle 2 was lost or crashed or missed the planet altogether. It was not lost since neither ESA or NASA planned to look or listen for it until it was on the surface. We just failed to communicate with it and hence it was assumed that it crashed or was unable to communicate.In fact I believe I have found it, fully deployed in a small crater and have worked out a credible theory as to why we did not communicate with it. Unfortunatley the powers-that-be are no longer interested, having 'moved-on'. Wed 20 Oct 2010 14:31:25 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Mark, your hope for Beagles 3 and 4 highlights the fundamental problem with Colin Pillinger's project: its one-off nature. This permeates space exploration today: the idea that all missions have to be special one-off efforts with separate development budgets and even different names. There's no sense of continuity, no sense of strategic vision, no sense of incremental improvement -- all essentials for a rational exploration strategy.Thus from the outset Beagle 2 was an orphan: no successor was planned, either to capitalise on success, or to promptly rectify failure (as unfortunately turned out to be the case). Obviously this was inevitable due to our country's inability to translate the widespread interest in Beagle into political weight.Another example which I find infuriating is the American Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity. They function better than planned, and keep on working year after year. So does NASA improve the design and send successors (whose development is already paid for and whose budget is now known)? No, they throw the design out of the window, go back to the drawing-board and literally reinvent the wheel. The resulting super-rover immediately runs way over budget and is now two years late. (ESA's corresponding ExoMars rover is now running at least half a decade late.)Another point: when Beagle 2 was lost, I recall Colin Pillinger quoting ESA as having said they would "stand by their fallen comrades", with the implication that they would do something effective. Of course what this phrase actually meant was that they would stand by their fallen comrades while doing precisely nothing to help. Maybe this or that bit of scientific instrumentation from Beagle 2 will find its way onto a future mission, but the breakthrough of a small, cheap but effective piece of kit has been totally lost, so far as I know.StephenOxford Tue 19 Oct 2010 12:38:15 GMT+1 Mark Stewart As the link at the top of the page indicates, “My Life on Mars” is published by the British Interplanetary Society, which has been promoting space exploration since the 1930s (the Society’s founding members include Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Sir Patrick Moore). The society hosted a book signing for Colin Pillinger at its H/Q in Vauxhall last Wednesday and it was a marvellous evening. The ghost of the lost lander was a palpable presence in the room and it was a privilege to meet one of Britain’s most famous space pioneers. No matter the ultimate fate of the tiny lander, Beagle 2 is clearly a success story, if only for the way it inspired a nation to think again of spaceflight in a way it hadn’t since the heady days of the Apollo missions. Even in an age when space is now “Big Business” controlled almost entirely by large corporations and national interests, Beagle 2 - famously designed on the back of a beer mat - showed there is still room for a smaller more idealistic endeavour. There was something wonderfully “Wellsian” about the little lander that took on the might of NASA and which generated a story that might well have come from the pen of H.G. himself: the long journey across the “gulfs of space” attached to the Mars Express mother-ship, followed by an unknown fate after the craft deployed in Mars orbit. The uncertainty surrounding subsequent events and the whereabouts of the spacecraft set the scene for an enduring mystery: did it land, did it crash, did it skip off the thin Martian atmosphere out into space? If nothing else Beagle 2 proves that the motto of the British interplanetary Society is as true today as it was in the 1930s: a spacecraft can still go from “Imagination to Reality” and have a huge impact on public consciousness. I envy the Professor: not only is he a visionary scientist but he is also a first class writer! I hope there will be a Beagle 3 and a Beagle 4. Go for it, Professor! Tue 19 Oct 2010 10:41:09 GMT+1 Stuart I disagree with the wording " inability of government back then to put money where it was needed, when it was needed."They found the money to fund the 'unplanned for' War in Iraq, making the investment in Beagle look like 'chicken-feed' [to mix metaphors].No, it was clearly 'unwillingness' and a political decision, which spectacularly back-fired as far as the public is concerned. They contine to justify their decision by saying "Look, it was a failure so we were right not to fund it further."This is of course 20-20 hindsight and ignores the fact that, had they funded it earlier and properly we might now have a whole series of Beagles on Mars.Sadder but wiser, Stuart Hurst Mon 18 Oct 2010 13:49:24 GMT+1