Cost Of Next-Generation Mars Rover Soars To $2.5B

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA’s next-generation rover to the surface of Mars needs more money — again.

Nine months before its scheduled launch, the space agency says the mission has burned through its reserves and needs an extra $82 million to complete testing before liftoff.

It’s the latest cost overrun to plague the Mars Science Laboratory, a nuclear-powered rover the size of a small SUV that will study whether the planet was or is still habitable.

Previous financial and development problems forced a two-year launch delay. Curiosity, as the rover is known, is now slated to lift off in November from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The latest price tag is $2.5 billion, making it the most expensive mission yet to Mars. NASA reported the need for the extra funds to its advisory council last week.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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