National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
News & Events
ISS Crew May Test Mars Sample Return Concepts
ISS Crew May Test Mars Sample Return Concepts
24 Nov 2003
(Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology)

By Frank Morring, Jr.
Aviation Week & Space Technology
November 24, 2003

Crewmembers on the International Space Station may get to test concepts for a future Mars Sample Return mission, using the station's pressurized volume to simulate the microgravity environment above the planet. Payload Systems Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., is developing hardware that will mimic a capture device capable of snagging a sample capsule sent up from the surface to an Earth-return vehicle orbiting Mars. Under a two-year, $600,000 Small Business Innovation Research contract, Payload Systems will build a cone-shaped mechanism for use on ISS with the company's Synchronized Position Hold, Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites (Spheres) system, already built and set for delivery on Progress resupply vehicles. Under control of a crewmember, the 8-in.-dia. Spheres devices--self-contained testbeds for satellite constellation-control software--will basically hurl themselves into the device to define its ability to catch and hold sample capsules arriving at different speeds and angles.

ESA Mars Sample Return Studies Awarded

The European Space Agency has awarded two study contracts to prepare a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission--the second flagship undertaking planned for the agency's Aurora planetary exploration program. Alenia Spazio heads one team and EADS Astrium the other. The first MSR mission in 2011 would include an orbiter and reentry capsule that would be inserted into Mars orbit in advance of a second mission in 2013. The latter would include descent and ascent vehicles to collect the sample for Earth return. Rendezvous/docking maneuvers for sample return are to be tested in the first Aurora flagship mission, Exo-Mars, set for 2009.

News Archive Search  Go!
Show  results per page
 
 
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 24 Nov 2003