NASA tests the first rocket to launch from the surface of another planet

Aug. 16, 2023
The Mars Ascent Vehicle will bring back samples from the Red Planet that are currently being collected by the Perseverance rover, Passant Rabie reports for Gizmodo.

WASHINGTON - NASA’s Perseverance rover has been diligently collecting rocky samples from Mars to stow them away on the planet’s dusty surface while engineers work to develop a rocket that can launch off of another world as a crucial step in the process of retrieving the samples, Passant Rabie reports for GizmodoContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

16 August 2023 - The MAV launch will be accomplished using two solid rocket motors – SRM1 and SRM2. SRM1 will propel MAV away from the Red Planet’s surface, while SRM2 will spin MAV’s second stage to place the sample container in the correct Mars orbit, allowing the Earth Return Orbiter to find it.

To test the solid rocket motor designs, the MAV team prepared development motors. This allowed the team to see how the motors will perform and if any adjustments should be made before they are built for the mission. The SRM2 development motor was tested on March 29, 2023, at the Northrop Grumman facility in Elkton, Maryland. Then, SRM1’s development motor was tested on April 7 at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

SRM1’s test was conducted in a vacuum chamber that was cooled to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) and allowed the team to also test a supersonic splitline nozzle, part of SRM1’s thrust vector control system. Most gimballing solid rocket motor nozzles are designed in a way that can’t handle the extreme cold MAV will experience, so the Northrop Grumman team had to come up with something that could: a state-of-the-art trapped ball nozzle featuring a supersonic split line.

Related: NASA announces 12 companies that will collaborate on Moon-to-Mars technology

Related: Blue Origin chosen by NASA to launch its Mars magnetosphere study mission

Related: NASA and ESA establish new research group for Mars sample return program

Jamie Whitney, Senior Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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