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

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