Mueller said the size and shape of the capsule would be the same as those used for the InSight mission. “It’s like using the same type of heat shield materials, exactly the same parachute design,” he said. “So we’re just using what NASA has already done a lot of analyzing and testing on every successful mission of this size that has gone to Mars.”
The lander would be the size of InSight but lighter, Mueller said. The basic configuration would not even include solar panels and would not work for long, only until the batteries ran out.
Mueller said that Impulse began talking this year with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which manages the InSight mission.
However, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory spokesman said there was not much work between the lab and Impulse yet. “It appears we’ve had some preliminary discussions with Impulse about this,” said Andrew Good, the spokesman. “But even though they have been looking to meet with us this year, that meeting has not happened yet.”
NASA’s Mars exploration program director Eric Ianson said through a spokeswoman at agency headquarters that NASA had not had any direct communication with Impulse and that he was not aware of the details of what the agency had said. company sought to do.
Relativity isn’t the only private space company announcing planetary exploration missions.
In 2020, Rocket Lab said it planned to send a small craft in 2023 that would fly close to Venus and launch a probe to see if there might be signs of life in the thick atmosphere. It also has a modest contract with NASA to launch two small orbiters to Mars beginning in 2024. But Rocket Lab already has 25 successful launches of its small Electron rocket, and last month it sent CAPSTONE, another small NASA-funded mission, to Mars. Moon. . (It is to arrive there in November).
A few years ago, SpaceX also had modest Martian plans, which it later abandoned.
In 2016, the company announced that a version of its Crew Dragon astronaut capsule, with no human passengers on board, would travel to the surface of Mars as soon as 2018. In 2017, SpaceX canceled these plans, called Red Dragon, after changed the capsule design to dive into the ocean instead of using rocket engines to land on land. (Water landings don’t work on Mars, where there is no flowing water.)