Getting anything into space is expensive. The planning stage of any mission is therefore crucial, not just for the successful completion of the mission, but also to ensure that it remains within the time and financial budgets. Before any mission can be launched various stages must be completed. First the initial concept must be explored, and then the detail developed. Next the spacecraft and launch vehicle must be produced and tested and finally the pre-launch associated activities conducted. The time scale for all this depends on the complexity of the mission. Large and complex missions usually take between 10 and 15 years to develop and, once launched, they can operate for 5–15 years. Some small and less complex missions can be developed within 12–18 months and operate between six months and several years.
When the different aspects of the mission are specified, the detailed development can begin. This includes choosing the launch site and launch vehicle, deciding which ground stations can be used for communication and designing the actual spacecraft and instruments required. Once designed, the manufacture and testing of each component and system can be completed. Contingency plans are also made, in case of an emergency during any part of the mission. Once the spacecraft is produced and ready to be deployed, the pre-launch activities begin and the mission is then continued through to the end of the life of the spacecraft.
KeywordsLanding Site Space Mission Space Shuttle Launch Vehicle Soft Landing
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