Mariner 10's exploration of Venus and Mercury in 1973–75 proved to be one of the most successful flights in the U.S. Space Program—and one of the best bargains the American taxpayer ever enjoyed. For the baseline mission a budget of $99.1 million was approved. This called for launch of a space probe in November 1973 on a mission that included a flyby of the planet Venus, using the gravity pull of that body to provide energy to continue on to the solar system's innermost planet, Mercury. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, selected Boeing Aerospace Company to design a variant of the standard Mariner spacecraft and to build and test the vehicle at the Boeing Space Center.
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