Starsys to Provide Descent Brake Damper for Lander

SpaceDev announced today that its subsidiary, Starsys, Inc., has been awarded a $1.4 million cost reimbursable design and development subcontract with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in support of the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Starsys will develop and deliver electromechanical Descent Brake dampers. The contract period of performance is approximately 18 months.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission will deliver a 1,800 pound rover to the surface of Mars in 2010. Rather than the airbag landing system used by the Mars Exploration Rover mission, a “Skycrane” landing system will use a rocket-decelerated Descent Stage that will hover and gently lower the rover on a 25 feet long bridle cord. A critical component of the “Skycrane” landing system is the Descent Brake that will lower the rover in less than seven seconds with a controlled speed profile that will provide a gentle touch-down on the Martian surface.

“SpaceDev is honored to be a supplier for JPL’s Mars Science Laboratory. This contract is the most recent example of our continuing support of JPL’s Mars exploration,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, SpaceDev’s Chairman and CEO. “We provided actuators for the first Martian rover, Sojourner, as part of the 1999 Mars Pathfinder Mission. We delivered more than 25 mechanisms for each of the 2003 Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, including the motors that point their cameras, and the actuators that have driven the rovers across the Martian surface for more than two years. In August of this year, the Phoenix Mars Lander mission will launch, carrying a wet-chemistry laboratory that Starsys helped to build in partnership with JPL,” Mr. Sirangelo continued. “This is a great opportunity to continue our support of these historic missions. We have assembled a highly capable team for this project and look forward to working with JPL to develop and deliver this hardware.”

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