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KAL 9000

Mars Sample Return

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Wow, it's been a while since I last posted here!

Anyways, Mars 2020's launch is coming up, and NASA seems pretty serious about wanting to return collected samples. They haven't actually announced a plan for returning the samples yet, so it's up to us to speculate :wink:. As fellow KSP players, you guys have some experience with orbital mechanics, so I was wondering what you guys think the best way to do an unmanned Mars sample return is?

Potential considerations:


-Mass of samples that can be returned

-Mission duration

-Reliability & Redundancy

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Posted (edited)



There are no concrete return plans yet, but Mars 2020 will eventually set up a "cache".

I am tempted to say that once there is a return possibility, the maybe decades previously set up cache will partly have lost its meaning because there'd be better/more meaningful sampling sites and possibilities.

Edit: but i am chewing my fingernails waiting for more data from Mars :-)

Edited by Green Baron

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Posted (edited)

NASA has zero funding even for initial design. Funding is the major constraint: that’s why their Powerpoints only include an ISRU-fuelled ascent rocket that would put the payload in orbit. Earth return isn’t even on those slides. Problem is, by the time they secure momey for THAT, the ISS will have likely expired, and that raises the hairy issue of potential accidental Martian invasion once those samples are landed.

NASA has bad memories with regards to sample return.


Ultimately I’m not sure why they’re adding in the extra motions, one Falcon Heavy should suffice:


Edited by DDE

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