Modified Mars Sample Return possible in 2022 to 2026

Nextbigfuture previously looked at the NASA analysis for modifying a Spacex Dragon for landing on Mars. They had determined it was possible to land enough mass and volume with a Red Dragon [modified Dragon] to enable a Mars Sample Return mission in which Mars Orbit Rendezvous is avoided, and the return vehicle comes directly back to Earth. NASA has continued the analysis.

In 2014, Nextbigfuture covered a 2 pager on Mars sample return using a Spacex Dragon.

Mars Sample Return (MSR) is the highest priority science mission for the next decade as recommended by the 2013 Decadal Survey of Planetary Science. There is now a 36 page presentation at the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Presentations on a Mars sample return using a modified Spacex Dragon.

*‡ Falcon Heavy places Red Dragon capsule on Trans Mars Injection trajectory.
*‡ Red Dragon is modified to carry required hardware
**Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV)
** ± Earth Return Vehicle (ERV)
** ± Mission support hardware
** ± Arm to transfer a sample from a previous rover mission ( i.e. 2020 rover) to the ERV

*‡ Red Dragon performs lifting trajectory EDL with Supersonic Retro Propulsion EDL paper at this 2014 IEEE Aerospace conference

* ‡ Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) launches Earth Return Vehicle (ERV) with sample from the surface to brief Mars phasing orbit.

* ‡ Mission can start in preferred 2022 opportunity or as late as 2026

A Mars Sample Return mission in 2022 opportunity that retrieves samples collected by Mars 2020 rover technically feasible with the use of emerging commercial technologies.


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