11:31 GMT +321 October 2019
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    This NASA handout image, released on June 13, 2008 shows the Robotic Arm on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander with a sample of martian soil as it prepares to move to the spacecraft's microscope station.

    NASA Seeks Industry Input on Rocket Motors for Mars Ascent Vehicle - Report

    © AFP 2019 / NASA
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    In a procurement request Monday, NASA announced that it is seeking industry to provide information on potential “solid rocket motors” to be used for its Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which is part of its proposed Mars Sample Return mission.

    Solid rocket motors are made up of a casing, typically steel, filled with a solid propellant.

    According to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Mars Sample Return campaign is a “proposed mission to return samples from the surface of Mars to Earth. The mission would use robotic systems and a Mars ascent rocket to collect and send samples of Martian rocks, soils and atmosphere to Earth for detailed chemical and physical analysis.”

    ​In its procurement request, NASA explains that the MAV would carry samples “from the Martian surface into orbit for rendezvous with an awaiting spacecraft.” 

    It also describes the MAV as a “two-stage vehicle,” requiring “two solid rocket motors of varied design.” The motors would need to withstand “environments of launch, space transport, Entry, Descent and Landing and residence on the Martian surface for a period of time (approximately up to one year) prior to activation.” NASA also outlines specific characteristics it is seeking for its rocket motors.

    NASA also notes that the procurement request is only for planning purposes at this point in time.


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