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As explained privately to UPI, the Mars Polar Lander vehicle’s braking thrusters had failed acceptance testing during its construction. But rather than begin an expensive and time-consuming redesign, an unnamed space official simply altered the conditions of the testing until the engine passed. “They tested the [engine] ignition process at a temperature much higher than it would be in flight,” UPI’s source said. This was done because when the [engines] were first tested at the low temperatures predicted after the long cruise from Earth to Mars, the ignition failed or was too unstable to be controlled. So the test conditions were changed in order to certify the engine performance. But the conditions then no longer represented those most likely to occur on the real space flight. “I’m as certain as I can be that the thing blew up,” the source concluded.