NASA and the Breakthrough Prize Foundation have entered an agreement to commence initial research into a privately funded mission to study Saturn’s potentially habitable moon, called Enceladus, SpaceNews.com reported.
NASA intends to allocate approximately $72,384 as part of the Space Act Agreement which tasks Breakthrough to conduct most of the research work and NASA to provide technical and scientific advice for the Enceladus Mission.
The agreement states that NASA and Breakthrough are expected to make a decision in December 2019 on whether the project will move on to Phase A, which involves a life signature mission to the Saturn moon.
Pete Worden, Breakthrough’s chairman and former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, said during the NewSpace Europe industry event in 2017 that the foundation will facilitate a six-month study to determine alternative concepts for a mission to Enceladus. These concepts will be open for partnerships with NASA or other space agencies.