Mission to Mars gets money extension

November 6, 1998

British plans to send a robotic lander to Mars in search of signs of life came a step closer this week as the European Space Agency gave the project the initial go-ahead. Colin Pillinger of the Open University has now until the end of 1999 to raise the Pounds 25 million needed to build Beagle 2, the lander that he hopes will travel to Mars in 2003 aboard ESA's Mars Express mission.

Professor Pillinger said he had raised enough money to take the project through the next development phase. "We now have the opportunity to apply for new money from things like the joint infrastructure fund," he said.

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