NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to design and build the aeroshell for the Mars Sample Retrieval Lander.
The capsule will protect the spacecraft through its landing sequence on Mars when it hits the atmosphere with extreme speed and force that generate thousands of degrees of heat.
Lockheed Martin is excited to team with JPL to design, fabricate and test an aeroshell for a Mars mission, said David Buecher, Lockheed Martin program manager for the Mars Sample Retrieval Lander aeroshell.
“By protecting this next spacecraft during its descent to Mars, we’re delighted to have a role in the safe delivery of another element of the Mars Sample Return program,” he added.
The Mars Sample Retrieval lander is the next big step in NASA’s visionary Mars Sample Return campaign. The lander will retrieve samples of Martian soil taken by the Perseverance Rover, which landed on the Red Planet in February 2021.
An ascent vehicle brought by the lander will then launch those samples into Martian orbit to rendezvous with a European Space Agency orbiter for their trip to Earth in the early 2030s.