NASA Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) Motor Tests
NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) successfully tested a development motor based on the second-stage solid rocket motor design at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The actual launch will be handled by using two solid rocket motors – SRM1 and SRM2 – with the first one propelling MAV away from the Red Planet’s surface.

SRM2 will spin MAV’s second stage to place the sample container in the correct Mars orbit, enabling the Earth Return Orbiter to locate it. SRM1 development motor test was conducted in a vacuum chamber that was cooled to -20° Celsius, while also allowing the team to also test a supersonic splitline nozzle, part of SRM1’s thrust vector control system. Aside from motor testing, the MAV team recently completed its Preliminary Design Review, in which it passed.

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NASA Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) Motor Tests

This test demonstrates our nation has the capacity to develop a launch vehicle that can successfully be lightweight enough to get to Mars and robust enough to put a set of samples into orbit to bring back to Earth. The hardware is telling us that our technology is ready to proceed with development,” said Benjamin Davis, MAV Propulsion Manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.


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