Show visitor Prof Colin Pillinger, father of the ill-fated Beagle 2 Mars lander, is keen to dispel a European Space Agency (ESA) report that blames poor management for the programme's failure.

Pillinger, of the Open University, says that the ESA report on the lander, which was lost as it entered the Martian atmosphere on Christmas Day last year, focussed on the wrong areas. "We had some of the best managers in the world, both from Astrium and the British National Space Centre," says Pillinger, who visited the show on Space Day. "And let's face it, I didn't manage the programme, but I was an easy character to focus on.


"The truth is that doing this type of work is bloody difficult and we tried our best to get it to work, but there are always risks. I think it's time we moved on to discuss how we can recover the scientific research opportunities that were lost with Beagle 2."

The ESA report also concluded that not enough checks and balances were in place to ensure that the mission would succeed and that too high a level of risk was taken.

But despite Beagle 2's failure, many believe that the science and instrumentation developed on the project still gives the UK the edge over other ESA member states when it comes to selecting partners for future lander missions.

Pillinger is pragmatic. "What we must do is ensure that another Beagle package flies as soon as possible. I have written to NASA this week to ask if we could piggy-back one of their missions to Mars in 2009.

"I don't want to break up the Beagle team, but we must look at all the opportunities to fly again," he says.


Source: Flight Daily News