Home-->News >> NASA Issues RFI for Mars Communications Satellites

NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to build a set of communications satellites for Mars. The approach signals a major change in the way NASA procures services from the commercial sector, as the operator would continue to own the satellites while in orbit around the Red Planet. The space agency said it needs new communications satellites to prevent a gap from occurring in the 2020s.

NASA stays connected to the Curiosity rover, launched in 2011, and the Opportunity rover launched in 2003 through science orbiters Odyssey, launched in 2001, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), launched in 2005. New orbiters, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft expected to arrive on Sept. 21, and theEuropean Space Agency’s (ESA’s) ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter in the 2016. NASA said it currently has no future orbiters planned following MAVEN, necessitating other means of maintaining interplanetary telecommunications.

“We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Depending on the outcome, the new model could be a vital component in future science missions and the path for humans to Mars.”


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