NASA picks Lockheed Martin to build rocket that can launch samples of dirt off of Mars


An artistic rendering of what the MAV could look like launching from Mars | Image: NASA

NASA has picked space and defense contractor Lockheed Martin to build a small rocket capable of lifting off from the surface of Mars carrying samples of the Red Planet’s rocks and other materials. The decision is a big step in a long journey to eventually bring pristine pieces of Mars back to Earth so that scientists can study them in greater detail. If successful, Lockheed Martin’s rocket could become the first to launch from another planet.

The rocket that Lockheed Martin is charged with building is known as the “Mars Ascent Vehicle,” or the MAV. It’s a key part of NASA’s plan to retrieve samples of Martian dirt that are currently being gathered by the space agency’s Mars rover, Perseverance. Last year, NASA successfully landed…

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