Contracts awarded for initial Mars sample return studies
Posted: April 17, 2001

Artist's conception of an ascent behicle lifting off from Martian surface. Photo: NASA-KSC
NASA's Mars Exploration Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has awarded four industry team contracts to conduct initial studies of specific implementation scenarios for a first Mars sample return mission that might be launched as early as 2011.

The four teams selected are:

  • Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colo.
  • Boeing Company, Huntington Beach, Calif.
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation, Denver, Colo.
  • TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif.

The contracts are valued at $1 million each and are to be performed over a six-month period.

These studies will formulate a broad suite of potential solutions to robotically acquiring rock and soil samples from Mars. NASA will select the best solutions for further development.

"These studies will help identify potential approaches to the mission, technology development and demonstration needs, and the infrastructure required to perform such a mission," said Dr. Firouz Naderi, the Mars Program Manager at JPL. "The studies are an important part of determining potential future Mars program direction over the next decade given that the underlying science trajectory for the program calls for the earliest possible 'informed' Mars Sample Return mission."

JPL manages the Mars Exploration Program for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.