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Douglas Isbell
Headquarters, Washington, DC                   October 22, 1999
(Phone:  202/358-1753)

RELEASE:  99-124


The NASA review board investigating the loss of Mars Climate Orbiter has completed its first round of meetings, and has begun preparing a report on its initial findings.

"Mission team members from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin have responded fully to all of our requests for information," said board chairman Art Stephenson, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL. "We clearly will have some specific recommendations relevant to helping ensure the successful landing of the Mars Polar Lander, and we have already begun providing informal feedback to the lander team, given their tight schedule. We have also made good progress towards identifying the root causes of the orbiter mission failure."

The failure review board will brief officials at NASA Headquarters on its initial findings on Oct. 29. The board will then deliver an initial written report to NASA by Nov. 5. A second report due by Feb. 1, 2000, will address lessons learned and recommendations to improve NASA processes to reduce the probability of similar incidents in the future.

Mars Polar Lander is scheduled to land on layered terrain near the south pole of Mars on Dec. 3. The next thruster firing to fine-tune the spacecraft's flight path for its approach to Mars is now scheduled for Oct. 30.

Mars Climate Orbiter was lost as it was entering orbit around Mars on Sept. 23. The orbiter and lander are part of a series of missions in a long-term program of Mars exploration managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL's industrial partner is Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, CO. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.

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