NASA selects Lockheed Martin to lift samples off of Mars surface

Feb. 10, 2022
NASA says that Lockheed Martin's Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) will be the first rocket fired off of another planet.

WASHINGTON - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration needed a specialized vehicle to collect surface and atmospheric samples off of Mars. They found their solution from Lockheed Martin Space of Littleton, Colo.

NASA says that Lockheed Martin's Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) will be the first rocket fired off of another planet. The MAV will help retrieve samples collected by NASA's Perseverance rover and return them to Earth to study.

Once it reaches Mars orbit, the container would be captured by an ESA (European Space Agency) Earth Return Orbiter spacecraft outfitted with NASA’s Capture, Containment, and Return System payload. The spacecraft would bring the samples to Earth safely and securely in the early- to mid-2030s.

Lockheed Martin Space will provide multiple MAV test units and a flight unit. Work under the contract includes designing, developing, testing, and evaluating the integrated MAV system, and designing and developing of the rocket’s ground support equipment.

The cost-plus-fixed-fee Mars Ascent Vehicle Integrated System (MAVIS) contract has a potential value of $194 million. The performance period begins no later than Feb. 25 and will extend six years.

To learn more about the Mars Sample Return program, visit NASA at

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