NASA has announced new plans to launch three space probes that would use less powerful boosters, thus allaying concerns at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory about the future of JPL's most important project during the next decade.
That project had been placed in jeopardy by the Challenger disaster last Jan. 28 and the subsequent decision by NASA not to use potentially dangerous hydrogen-fueled boosters to launch the probes from the shuttle toward their targets. That raised the possibility that the Galileo probe to Jupiter, which is already several years behind schedule, might be scrapped.
Now those fears have been laid to rest with the announcement that less powerful but safer solid-fuel boosters will be used to launch Galileo and two other projects, the European Space Agency's Ulysses probe to study the sun and NASA's Magellan space craft, which is to map the surface of Venus. The launches are tentatively scheduled for 1989 and 1990.