Indexed on: 19 Mar '16Published on: 03 Mar '16Published in: Acta Astronautica
Mars Sample Return is the highest priority science mission for the next decade as recommended by the 2011 Decadal Survey of Planetary Science (Squyres, 2011 ). This article presents the results of a feasibility study for a Mars Sample Return mission that efficiently uses emerging commercial capabilities expected to be available in the near future. The motivation of our study was the recognition that emerging commercial capabilities might be used to perform Mars Sample Return with an Earth-direct architecture, and that this may offer a desirable simpler and lower cost approach. The objective of the study was to determine whether these capabilities can be used to optimize the number of mission systems and launches required to return the samples, with the goal of achieving the desired simplicity.