TRW Awarded NASA Contract to Study Concepts for Mars Ascent Vehicle

Press Release From: TRW, Inc.
Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2001

Small Rocket Will Lift Packaged Science Samples From Mars for Transfer to Earth

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has awarded TRW a six-month, $300,000 study contract to develop concepts for a small rocket that will lift science samples gathered by NASA's Mars Sample Return mission from the Martian surface and support their return to Earth.

The so-called Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) will be carried to the Martian surface as part of the Mars Sample Return spacecraft, planned for launch no earlier than 2011.

This contract is the third Mars-related contract that TRW has received in recent months, reflecting the company's commitment to become a leading contributor to NASA's Mars Exploration Program. TRW has previously won a study contract for the Mars Sample Return mission and is a member of a UCLA-led team that recently received a Mars Scout study award.

``We're quite excited to have the opportunity to expand our partnership with NASA/JPL on this key element of the Mars Sample Return Mission,'' said Fred Ricker, vice president and general manager, TRW Space & Laser Programs Division. ``It will be a good match for TRW's demonstrated expertise in propulsion, systems engineering and spacecraft reliability.''

Over the course of the six-month study, TRW will study a variety of design concepts and propulsion options for the MAV. Among the propulsion options to be considered are liquid, gel and solid propellant systems.

TRW Space & Electronics is an operating unit of Cleveland-based TRW Inc., which provides advanced technology products and services for the aerospace, telecommunications, automotive and information technology markets worldwide. TRW's Web site is

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