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NASA explores new Mars Sample Return concepts
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NASA explores new Mars Sample Return concepts
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 09, 2024

NASA is advancing with ten studies to explore more affordable and faster ways to return samples from Mars' surface to Earth as part of the Mars Sample Return Program. NASA will award a firm-fixed-price contract of up to $1.5 million for 90-day studies to seven industry proposers.

Additionally, NASA centers, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory are conducting studies. Upon completion, NASA will review all studies to consider changes or improvements to the Mars Sample Return architecture.

"Mars Sample Return will be one of the most complex missions NASA has undertaken, and it is critical that we carry it out more quickly, with less risk, and at a lower cost," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "I'm excited to see the vision that these companies, centers and partners present as we look for fresh, exciting, and innovative ideas to uncover great cosmic secrets from the Red Planet."

For the past 25 years, NASA has systematically worked to understand the early history of Mars and its relevance to the formation and evolution of habitable worlds, including Earth. Mars Sample Return has been a long-term goal of international planetary exploration for the past two decades. Since landing on Mars in 2021, NASA's Perseverance rover has been collecting samples for future return to Earth.

The following companies and proposals were selected from responses to an April 15 request for proposals:

+ Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado: "Lockheed Martin Rapid Mission Design Studies for Mars Sample Return"

+ SpaceX in Hawthorne, California: "Enabling Mars Sample Return With Starship"

+ Aerojet Rocketdyne in Huntsville, Alabama: "A High-Performance Liquid Mars Ascent Vehicle, Using Highly Reliable and Mature Propulsion Technologies, to Improve Program Affordability and Schedule"

+ Blue Origin in Monrovia, California: "Leveraging Artemis for Mars Sample Return"

+ Quantum Space in Rockville, Maryland: "Quantum Anchor Leg Mars Sample Return Study"

+ Northrop Grumman in Elkton, Maryland: "High TRL MAV Propulsion Trades and Concept Design for MSR Rapid Mission Design"

+ Whittinghill Aerospace in Camarillo, California: "A Rapid Design Study for the MSR Single Stage Mars Ascent Vehicle"

NASA's Mars Sample Return is a strategic partnership with ESA (the European Space Agency). Returning scientifically selected samples to Earth for study using the most sophisticated instruments worldwide can revolutionize our understanding of Mars and fulfill one of the highest priority solar system exploration goals identified by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Related Links
Mars Sample Return
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

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NASA seeks faster, more affordable Mars sample return mission
Space Coast FL (SPX) Jun 05, 2024
NASA officials want a new Mars sample return mission plan that is faster, costs less and isn't as complex than one scrapped in April. The space agency doesn't want to wait until 2040 and spend $11 billion to return core samples being collected on Mars, which the recently scrapped plan would have required. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in April canceled the lengthy mission plan, saying he wants to see collaboration on a less-pricey mission design that also reduces complexity and risk. "The ... read more

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