Northrop to Build First Rocket to Blast Samples Off Mars

NASA gave the company a contract worth up to 84.5 million dollars to help develop the propulsion system that will be used to power the Mars Ascent Vehicle.

    2021/03/10

NSFW    WASHINGTON — NASA reports that it has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract worth up to 84.5 million dollars to help develop the propulsion system that will be used to power the Mars Ascent Vehicle, or M.A.V.

The M.A.V. will be the rocket that will launch samples of rock from Mars to space — which would be one of many stages needed to bring back samples from Mars for the first time in history.

NASA's plan is to let its Perseverance rover, which is currently starting its mission on Mars, collect soil and rock samples, then sealing the samples in protective tubes and dropping them randomly on the Martian surface.

In the next few years, the Sample Retrieval Lander will touch down and deploy the Sample Fetch Rover, which will follow in Perseverance's tracks, recover the sample tubes, return them to the lander, and load them into the M.A.V.

The M.A.V. will then blast off from the lander, launching the sample capsule into orbit, where another spacecraft will rendezvous, collect the sample capsule, and return it to Earth.
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