NASA selects aerospace companies to conduct concept studies for potential Mars orbiter mission

NASA has selected five U.S. aerospace companies to conduct concept studies for a potential future Mars orbiter mission. Such a mission would continue key capabilities including telecommunications and global high-resolution imaging in support of the agency's Journey to Mars, Phys.org writes.

The companies contracted for these four-month studies are: The Boeing Company in Huntington Beach, California; Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver; Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California; Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia; and Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California.

"We're excited to continue planning for the next decade of Mars exploration," said Geoffrey Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The concept studies will address how a potential new Mars orbiter mission could best provide communications, imaging and operational capabilities. They also will assess the possibilities for supporting additional scientific instruments and functionalities, in addition to optical communications. The orbiter concept under study would take advantage of U.S. industry's technology capacities by using solar electric propulsion to provide flexible launch, mission and orbit capabilities.
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