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Mars ascent vehicle key elements of a Mars Sample Return mission

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2 Author(s)
Stephenson, D.D. ; George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA ; Willenberg, H.J.

The Mars Sample Return mission is being planned to return samples of Martian rock, soil, and atmosphere to Earth for scientific analysis. A Mars ascent vehicle (MAV) will be brought to the Martian surface within a lander; receive samples delivered by a mobile surface vehicle; and launch the samples into Mars orbit for return to Earth. The MAV is being designed as a two-stage solid-fuel vehicle with a head-end steering capability, packaged within an erectable launch tube for thermal and environmental stability during the various mission phases of cruise to Mars; entry, descent, and landing; surface and pre-launch operations; and launch. Key features of the MAV operations and design are discussed, including the thermal, environmental, and structural requirements and their conceptual design solutions during each phase; concepts for insertion of the orbiting sample into the payload bay inside the launch tube; and pre-launch operations. MAV launch to orbit details will be discussed, and key technology development challenges will be identified

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2006 IEEE

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