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Dragonfly Rotorcraft Mission Proceeds Despite Cost Doubling

APR 23, 2024
NASA attributes the increased cost to pandemic-related disruptions and changes to the mission design.
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Science Policy Reporter, FYI American Institute of Physics
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An artist’s illustration of the Dragonfly rotorcraft.

(NASA)

NASA has permitted the Dragonfly rotorcraft mission to Saturn’s moon Titan to enter the final stage of design, the agency announced last week. The mission is led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland and is expected to launch to Titan in July 2028.

The project had to be replanned multiple times but now has a green light to proceed to construction and testing once the final design is completed. NASA stated it now expects the mission to cost $3.35 billion, about double the proposed cost.

The agency attributes the increase to a combination of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, “in-depth design iteration,” and additional funding for a heavy-lift vehicle to shorten the travel time to Saturn.

“The Dragonfly mission is an incredible opportunity to explore an ocean world in a way that we have never done before,” said Dragonfly Principal Investigator Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle of APL in a press release. “The team is dedicated and enthusiastic about accomplishing this unprecedented investigation of the complex carbon chemistry that exists on the surface of Titan and the innovative technology bringing this first-of-its-kind space mission to life.”

This news brief originally appeared in FYI’s newsletter for the week of April 22.

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