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.
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.
SOURCES – NASA, FISO,