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NASA Mulls Second Extended Mission for Orbital ATK-Built Dawn Spacecraft

NASA will decide in the next two months on a second extended mission for the Orbital ATK-built Dawn spacecraft, which is in orbit around the Ceres dwarf planet, Space News reported Wednesday.

Dawn arrived in Ceres’ orbit in March 2015 after a 7.5-year journey and completed a one-year extended mission in June.

NASA spokesperson Laurie Cantillo told Space News that the agency’s planetary science division has begun to review a report from an independent panel on Dawn’s science achievements at Ceres.

Cantillo added Dawn could stay in orbit around Ceres or use its remaining fuel to fly to another asteroid.

Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for Dawn at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at an agency meeting in June that the mission is also considering a flyby, the report stated.

Raymond noted Dawn has enough fuel to operate until the end of 2018.

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