Hot on the heels of budget concerns due to priority shifts, NASA has decided to cancel its Dawn asteroid missions citing cost overruns and the mission’s relatively low priority. The Dawn mission was originally supposed to study the two largest main-belt asteroids, Vesta and Ceres, but estimated cost overruns of around 20% and the nation’s shifting focus toward putting a man on Mars had placed the project on the back burner.
The 50% completed spacecraft will largely be used in other missions, with the notable exception of its ion engines.
NASA is looking into using the spacecraft’s hardware for other missions and future efforts to build ion propulsion engines will benefit from the lessons learned by Dawn engineers.
[tags]NuStar, Keck, Dawn, NASA, asteroids[/tags]