Northrop Grumman Corporation said it has been selected by NASA to provide solid propulsion systems and controls for NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV).
The MAV will be launched to Mars in 2026 along with a “fetch” rover that will collect soil and rock samples prepared by NASA’s Perseverance rover, which launched in July 2020 and landed on Mars Feb. 18.
Northrop Grumman will provide its STAR first and second stage solid rocket motors, the first stage thrust vector control system and the second stage spin rockets for the MAV. Once the MAV and fetch rover arrive on the Red Planet’s surface, the fetch rover will spend approximately 18 months collecting samples and transferring collection tubes to the MAV for storage. Upon mission completion, the MAV will launch back into Mars’ orbit to rendezvous with the Earth Return Orbiter.
Similar to the advances scientists have made in studying samples from the moon for decades, current and future NASA scientists will study the samples returned from Mars to learn more about the Red Planet’s composition. The overall campaign also supports efforts to one day send humans to Mars. Work under the contract will be performed in Elkton, Maryland, and San Jose, California.
The Perseverance Rover also utilizes Northrop’s LN-200S inertial measurement unit, which provides attitude and acceleration information for guidance, as well as pressurant tanks for the Rover’s gas dust removal tool and propellant tanks for the Rover’s controlled descent element.