NASA has been awarded a contract to transport the first samples of Martian rocks and soil to Earth.
The amount of the contract with Northrop Grummanis $ 84.5 million, but taking into account the complexity of the mission, in the future it is possible to revise the budget. According to the contract, the contractor must arrange for the delivery of soil samples collected by the Perseverance rover for direct study by researchers on Earth.
The Mars Sample Return mission involves sending two spacecraft to the red planet. The first will meet the rover, take away from a vessel with samples and will bring them into the orbit of Mars. The second ship will fly up to them already in open space, take on board the valuable cargo and go to Earth.
The preliminary plan calls for a launch in 2026, a landing on Mars in 2028, and a return with samples by 2031.
Last year, the US space agency also funded a number of fantastic space exploration projects that look more like ideas from science fiction films.</p>