NASA puts $10M down on Mars sample return proposals from Blue Origin, SpaceX and others

It turns out the space industry has a lot of ideas on how to improve NASA’s $11 billion, 15-year plan to collect and return samples from Mars. Seven of these proposals have caught the agency’s attention. 
Announced today, NASA has awarded $1.5 million contracts to seven companies to further develop their plans for the revamped Mars Sample Return mission. The awardees, and the title of their proposals, are as follows: 
A total of ten studies — including two NASA centers, and the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Applied Physics Laboratory — were selected to produce studies. These were selected after the agency put out a request for proposals in April. 
The titles don’t really say very much at all about the respective proposals — for example, it’s no surprise that SpaceX is offering up Starship for a mission to Mars, but how exactly the vehicle will be enabled to collect and return samples is still unclear. That’s the whole point of the study period: to help NASA understand whether there are viable alternative mission designs or mission elements to bring Martian samples home safely. 
According to the request for proposal, studies could be for complete overhauls of the mission design, or for designs that include elements of NASA’s MSR mission or NASA’s Artemis program. 
NASA turned to private industry after finally admitting that its architecture for MSR is incredibly complicated. In fact, it’s a bit of a misnomer to even call it a single mission, given that the plan involved the Perseverance rover, a novel sample retrieval lander, a rocket called a Mars Ascent Vehicle, and an Earth return orbiter. These vehicles would need to work in perfect synchronicity to collect and transport the samples. 
Last year, an independent review board recommended that NASA revisit the mission design given the concerns about the technical features and the high costs. So the agency is doing just that: In documents related to the RFP, NASA said its looking for a less complex mission design and one that would reduce the total costs to the agency. The agency also said it was looking for the earliest possible return date. 
Companies will start work in July and complete their studies in October.  
Every weekday and Sunday, you can get the best of TechCrunch’s coverage.
Startups are the core of TechCrunch, so get our best coverage delivered weekly.
The latest Fintech news and analysis, delivered every Tuesday.
TechCrunch Mobility is your destination for transportation news and insight.
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice.
Anterior, a company that uses AI to expedite health insurance approval for medical procedures, has raised a $20 million Series A round at a $95 million post-money valuation led by…
Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review — TechCrunch’s newsletter recapping the week’s biggest news. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here. There’s more bad news for…
If death and taxes are inevitable, why are companies so prepared for taxes, but not for death? “I lost both of my parents in college, and it didn’t initially spark…
Google and Microsoft have made their developer conferences a showcase of their generative AI chops, and now all eyes are on next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which is expected to…
AI systems and large language models need to be trained on massive amounts of data to be accurate but they shouldn’t train on data that they don’t have the rights…
Before Wazer came along, “water jet cutting” and “affordable” didn’t belong in the same sentence. That changed in 2016, when the company launched the world’s first desktop water jet cutter,…
Former Autonomy chief executive Mike Lynch issued a statement Thursday following his acquittal of criminal charges, ending a 13-year legal battle with Hewlett-Packard that became one of Silicon Valley’s biggest…
Featured Article
As another Snowflake customer confirms a data breach, the cloud data company says its position “remains unchanged.”
Investor demand has been so strong for Rippling’s shares that it is letting former employees particpate in its tender offer. With one exception.
It turns out the space industry has a lot of ideas on how to improve NASA’s $11 billion, 15-year plan to collect and return samples from Mars. Seven of these…
Featured Article
When Bowery Capital general partner Loren Straub started talking to a startup from the latest Y Combinator accelerator batch a few months ago, she thought it was strange that the company didn’t have a lead investor for the round it was raising. Even stranger, the founders didn’t seem to be…
The keynote will be focused on Apple’s software offerings and the developers that power them, including the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, visionOS and watchOS.
Welcome to Startups Weekly — Haje’s weekly recap of everything you can’t miss from the world of startups. Anna will be covering for him this week. Sign up here to…
HSBC and BlackRock estimate that the Indian edtech giant Byju’s, once valued at $22 billion, is now worth nothing.
Apple is set to board the runaway locomotive that is generative AI at next week’s World Wide Developer Conference. Reports thus far have pointed to a partnership with OpenAI that…
LinkedIn has confirmed it will no longer allow advertisers to target users based on data gleaned from their participation in LinkedIn Groups. The move comes more than three months after…
Founders: Need plans this weekend? What better way to spend your time than applying to this year’s Startup Battlefield 200 at TechCrunch Disrupt. With Monday’s deadline looming, this is a…
The company is in the process of building a gigawatt-scale factory in Kentucky to produce its nickel-hydrogen batteries.
Meta is quietly rolling out a new “Communities” feature on Messenger, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. The feature is designed to help organizations, schools and other private groups communicate in…
Featured Article
Voice assistants in general are having an existential moment, and generative AI is poised to be the logical successor.
Education software provider PowerSchool is being taken private by investment firm Bain Capital in a $5.6 billion deal.
Shopify has acquired, the Sequoia-backed Slack alternative, Threads said on its website. The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the deal but said that the team will join…
Featured Article
Two senior police officials in Bangladesh are accused of collecting and selling citizens’ personal information to criminals on Telegram.
Carta, a once-high-flying Silicon Valley startup that loudly backed away from one of its businesses earlier this year, is working on a secondary sale that would value the company at…
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has successfully delivered two astronauts to the International Space Station, a key milestone in the aerospace giant’s quest to certify the capsule for regular crewed missions.  Starliner…
Rivian needs to sell its new revamped vehicles at a profit in order to sustain itself long enough to get to the cheaper mass market R2 SUV on the road.
Featured Article
Apple is hoping to make WWDC 2024 memorable as it finally spells out its generative AI plans.
As WWDC 2024 nears, all sorts of rumors and leaks have emerged about what iOS 18 and its AI-powered apps and features have in store.
Apple’s annual list of what it considers the best and most innovative software available on its platform is turning its attention to the little guy.
Meta launched its Meta Verified program today along with other features, such as the ability to call large businesses and custom messages.
Powered by WordPress VIP

Sponsor:News technical sponsor
Sponsor:News AI sponsor
Sponsor: AI sponsor
Sponsor: AI sponsor

Leave a Comment

Vélemény, hozzászólás?

Az e-mail címet nem tesszük közzé. A kötelező mezőket * karakterrel jelöltük