A
Boeing-led team has been awarded one of four $1 million contracts from
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to study options
for a potential Mars sample return mission in 2011.

The contract runs from April through October.

“Selecting, collecting and returning samples from Mars is the most
ambitious mission JPL has ever planned,” said Program Manager Brent
Sherwood of Boeing. “We now know that the most important sampling
locations are precisely the hardest to land near and to operate robots
within.”

Boeing is integrating a broad team of highly accomplished science,
robotics and space transportation architects and specialists. The team
includes:

  • David B. Smith and researchers from SpaceDev Inc. of San
    Diego.

  • Dr. Ronald Greeley and his Mars science team from Arizona
    State University, department of geological sciences.

  • Dr. William “Red” Whittaker and his field robotics team at The
    Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Gordon R. Woodcock of Gray Research of Huntsville, Ala.
  • Draper Laboratory of Cambridge, Mass.
  • The Aerospace Corp. of El Segundo, Calif.
  • Dr. Ed Belbruno of Innovative Orbital Design of Princeton,
    N.J.

Whittaker said upcoming technological advances will expand the
role of robotics in future planetary exploration.

“The possibility for robots is far beyond our current thinking of
a drone that merely responds to commands,” Whittaker said. “In the
next few years, we’ll develop competent and capable agents that will
work as partners in exploring other worlds.”

Contact:

The Boeing Co., Huntington Beach

Glen Golightly, 714/372-4742

Space and Communications Web:
www.boeing.com/defense-space/space/