Watch the Mars Sample Return Mission Rocket Undergoing Testing in Preparation of its Lift off from the Surface of Mars

NASA Perseverance rover has collected samples of the Mars surface and stored them in its chamber. The American Space Agency is working on its Mars Sample Return Mission to bring back these collected samples from the surface of the red planet to Earth. NASA successfully tested these two engines that will be deployed in its Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV).

These engines were built to lift the MAV that will carry the Mars Sample Return off the surface of Mars and into the Martian orbit. NASA is building the Mars Ascent Vehicle as a two Stage system just like a rocket system on Earth. These two stages are named SRM1 and SRM2. Each of these stages will help in accomplishing different phases of the MAV’s ascent flight into the Mars orbit.

What You Should Know About Mars Ascent Vehicle that will execute the Mars Sample Return Mission

NASA is building its Mars Ascent Vehicle to lift the collected Mars samples into the Martian orbit. The two different stages, SRM1 and SRM2 are not built to have the same size and technology. SRM1 is more massive than SRM2. NASA designed the SRM1 to lift the Mars sample return mission off the Martian surface into the air. Hence, it has more sophisticated technologies than SRM2 for the success of the mission.

SRM1 also comes with a unique feature known as a supersonic splitline nozzle (SSSL). NASA performed the testing of the entire SRM1 engine and its SSSL at Edwards Air Force Base on April 7th. The fascinating video released by the agency revealed how the SRM1 experiment occurred in a vacuum chamber and other great details about the Mars sample return mission rocket test.

The video also revealed the corrective motions of the SSSL. Hence, the successful completion of the testing will inspire the engineers to commence with the next phase of the testing.

SRM2 comes with technologies to boost the MAV into the Martian orbit. Once it arrives in orbit, the Mars sample return vehicle will rendezvous with the spacecraft that will bring it back to Earth. During the test video, scientists revealed that handling the spin of the vehicle is another issue NASA hopes to provide a solution for before commencing with the return mission.

How NASA Engineers Conducted the Testing

At the start of the testing, the rocket engine rotated at 200 rotations per minute (RPM) on the test bench, which was not brought into the vacuum chamber. The performance of the engine remained steady during the test. A closer observation could tell anyone that the spinning shown in the video is quite unique in rocket engines.

NASA revealed that its SRM1 and SRM2 test chambers have to be about -20 degrees C. However, during the testing of SRM2 outside of a Northrupp Grumman test facility in Maryland in March, the weather was not extremely cold enough. Hence, the scientists conducting the testing had to cool the test chamber to get the desirable temperature.

After the testing, NASA scientists revealed that both engines passed all the requirements of their test plans. Hence, they are qualified to upgrade to the next development and testing phase. But the financing of the project depends on Congress as it remains unclear if the rocket will reach the stage of further development.


NASA is seriously working on its Mars Ascent Vehicle to return the collected Martian samples to Earth. The successful testing of the MAV rocket has shown NASA’s readiness to commence with the Mars sample return mission. What do you think about this development?

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