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MAVEN launch preparations resume
Posted: Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 8:12 AM ET (1212 GMT)
MAVEN spacecraft illustration (NASA) Work has resumed on a NASA Mars mission slated for launch next month after officials determined the mission was exempt from the federal government shutdown. Preparations of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) for launch in mid-November were put on hold Tuesday when then federal government shut down. An extended lapse, project officials warned, could have prevented the spacecraft from launching in a window that is open only through December 7, delaying it until 2016. However, the mission's principal investigator said Thursday he was notified NASA was exempting the mission from the shutdown because of the role the spacecraft will play as a communications relay for current and future Mars landers. NASA guidelines for the government shutdown exempted those activities required for the operation of ongoing missions. The mission, for now, remains on track for a launch on November 18.
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