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Designs by Type

From technology demonstrators to crewed missions, from microsats to sample return, and from launchers to extraterrestrial submarines- Compass is ready to design the spacecraft you need!

Technology Demonstrators

Communications

Communications, Navigation, and Networking re-Configurable Testbed (CoNNeCT) (2008)

Communications, Navigation, and Networking re-Configurable Testbed

The CoNNeCT flight system (also called SCaN Testbed) was installed on the International Space Station (ISS) Express Logistics Carrier (ELC) inboard upper starboard site via extravehicular activity (EVA). Designed to operate for a minimum of 2 years. The system demonstrated software-defined radios on orbit!

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IROC Demo (2014)

IROC Demo

Conceptual design of an RF/laser communications system technology demonstrator. Placed in Near Earth Orbit.

Optical Relay (2016) and Optical Relay Demo II (2017)

Optical Relay

Optical Relay Demo II

An optical pathfinder for optical next generation relay satellite with five different options of optical modules on the satellite (includes on-board switching, crosslinks). The number of optical payload modules is dependent on potential partnerships.

SmallSat Ka-band Operations User Terminal (SKOUT) (2018)

SmallSat Ka-band Operations User Terminal

A Ka-band communications system that operates with both NASA and commercial relay satellite constellations in GEO (and potentially LEO) as well as direct-to-ground (DTG) networks.

Power Systems

Mars Hard Lander (2013)

Mars Hard Lander

RHU (Radioisotope Heating Unit) powered Mars Penetrator design. Demonstrates how RHU-RPS (Radioisotope Power Systems) systems can enable science investigations throughout the solar system.

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On Orbit Large Solar Array (2017)

On Orbit Large Solar Array

Technology demonstration of the advantages (and challenges) of using an Orbital ATK / LaRC TALISMAN equipped service vehicle for large NASA SEP vehicles.

Exploration Mission (EM)-2 High Power Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Demonstrator  (2017)

Exploration Mission-2 High Power Solar Electric Propulsion Demonstrator

Technology demonstration of large, light, flexible solar arrays.

Lunar Kilopower Demonstrator (2018)

Lunar Kilopower Demonstrator

Demonstrates Kilopower technology on a lunar lander that performs an extended-duration lunar science mission addressing strategic NASA goals.

High Temperature Electronics

Venus Weather Station (2016)

Venus Weather Station

The Venus Weather Station mission is a set of two landed stations operating at high temperature and long duration which will be able to provide periodic environmental and weather data for an entire Venus Morning to Morning (120 days). Deployed from large balloon probe (other options to deploy from dedicated aeroshell).

3-D Printer Files

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Venus Bridge Orbiter and Surface Study  (2017)

Venus Bridge

The Venus Bridge seeks to develop a two element mission (long duration lander or aerial vehicle and orbiter relay) which fits in a $200M cost cap. Launch Year: 2025, Lifetime: 120 earth days on surface (~ 1 day/night cycle).

Long-Lived In-Situ Solar System Explorer (LLISSE) Tech Demo (2019)

Long-Lived In-Situ Solar System Explorer

A high temperature tolerant Venus lander technology demonstrator to fly with a Discovery Mission. Designed to fit a $20M cost cap, the lander makes use of SiC electronics to survive the high temperatures and pressures without requiring a pressure vessel.

Propulsion

SMC SEP ESPA (2016)

SMC SEP ESPA

A joint NASA / Air Force technology demonstration of high power electric propulsion capability.

Han Propulsion (2013)

 Han Propulsion

Uses Han Propulsion System in various past solar electric propulsion Compass designs to evaluate the benefits and challenges of the technology.

Cryogenic Fluid Management

Cryogenic Fluid Management (CFM) Demo (2018)

Cryogenic Fluid Management

Technology demonstration of both long term storage and transfer of cryogens.

Cryo Payload (2019)

Cryo Payload

In a study collaborating with DLR, the payload consists of a super-insulated storage tank, an experiment tank, a pressurization system, a system for thermal monitoring and sensors to monitor the experiments.

In-Situ Resource Utilization

In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Power System Demonstrator (2015)

In-situ Resource Utilization Power System Demonstrator

Power System Point Design for a Mars ISRU demonstrator potentially launched as part of an Entry Descent and Landing demonstrator.  ISRU plant operates 10 hours per day at the equator and produces & stores 1500 kg of liquid oxygen in 1200 days (accounting for a 20 day dust storm outage).

Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) (2018)

Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization

An ISRU system to produce 6.7t of liquid oxygen per year at the south pole of the moon for users <1 km away.

Science Missions

Low-Cost Lunar Robotic Lander (2006)

Low-Cost Lunar Robotic Lander

Provides a low-cost (~$100 M) capability to place small payloads (~10s of kg) of science or technology demonstrators on the lunar surface. Provides a science payload capability of: 1 week, sunlit, global access, 25 W for 15 kg payload landed on lunar surface.

Paper on NTRS.

Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) Mars Geyser Hopper (2009)

Radioisotope Power Systems Mars Geyser Hopper

Design of a landed hopper, cruise deck, and aeroshell for transit and landing at the Martian South Pole. The Geyser Hopper is capable of one hop to investigate geysers. Geyser investigation science package includes cameras, a meteorology package, and MastCAM. Landing site science includes MARDI, LIDAR (laser-radar), and chemical analysis package.

Europa Ice Sounder (EIS)- Discovery Mission (2010)

Europa Ice Sounder

Radar-equipped Jupiter orbiter performs flybys of Europa to sound the depth of the ice. The final science orbit has a 78 day period with flybys of Europa at periapsis.

Kuiper Belt Object Orbiter (KBOO) (2009)

Kuiper Belt Object Orbiter

Radioisotope Electric Propulsion (REP) orbiter to orbit Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). Trades of both REP power sources–ARTG (Advanced Radioisotope Thermal Generator) and ASRG (Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator) as well as trades on two KBO Targets–2001 GT322 and 2001 XH255.

Paper on NTRS.

Stratospheric High Altitude Research for Planetary Science (SHARPS) (2012)

Stratospheric High Altitude Research for Planetary Science

High altitude balloon gondola capable of providing a platform for planetary science applications. Delivers gondola with telescope to an altitude of 30 km for the purpose of observing planets and other planetary bodies. Provides a lower cost and longer observation times than current assets.

Enceladus Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) Smallsat  (2016)

Enceladus Radioisotope Power Systems Smallsat

A pair of RPS Smallsats to examine the geophysical and life supporting capability of Enceladus by scanning the south pole and analyzing water plumes.

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 X-Ray Polarimetry Package (XPP)  (2017)

 X-Ray Polarimetry Package

A multi-instrument X-Ray telescope concept.

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Venus Bridge Orbiter and Surface Study  (2017)

Venus Bridge

The Venus Bridge seeks to develop a two-element mission (long duration lander or aerial vehicle and orbiter relay) which fits in a $200M cost cap. Launch Year: 2025, Lifetime: 120 earth days on surface (~ 1 day/night cycle).

Canopy Height and Glacier Elevation change (CHanGE) (2018)

Canopy Height and Glacier Elevation change

CHanGE is an instrument concept that would combine high-resolution stereo optical imaging with lidar measurements of ice topography and vegetation structure.

Smallsats

Small GEO Space Based Relay (SBR) (2013)

Small GEO Space Based Relay

Small GEO Space Based Relay. S-Band/Ka-Band single access relay to ground system.

GTO Smallsat (2016)

GTO Smallsat

Demonstrate the rapid development, integration, and delivery of a low-cost, small satellite – with a spacecraft architecture that could be employed for a variety of missions in the future. Different combinations of propulsion, power, communications, and payload were explored, along with adaptability for different launch providers.

Enceladus Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) Smallsat  (2016)

Enceladus Radioisotope Power Systems Smallsat

A pair of RPS Smallsats to examine the geophysical and life supporting capability of Enceladus by scanning the south pole and analyzing water plumes.

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Lunar Relay Smallsats (2019)

Lunar Relay Smallsats

A 27U CubeSat conceptual design of a demonstrator for a South pole lunar relay and navigation constellation.

SmallSat Ka-band Operations User Terminal (SKOUT) (2018)

SmallSat Ka-band Operations User Terminal

A Ka-band communications system that operates with both NASA and commercial relay satellite constellations in GEO (and potentially LEO) as well as direct-to-ground (DTG) networks.

Microsats

Edison Nanosat (2012)

Edison Nanosat

Also called SHIFT (SunSync Hall Iodine Flight Test), this 6U cubesat demonstrate a high delta-v mission capability (>500 m/s) using an iodine hall propulsion system.

SLS Cubesat (2013)

SLS Cubesat

Communication system demonstration cubesat. Launched as a secondary payload on the Space Launch System.

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General Purpose Heat Source (GPHS) Microsat (2013)

General Purpose Heat Source Microsat

Microsat using a single GPHS for power. Flyby gas giant moons. Flyby different centaurs.

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GPHS Microsat

SPAGHETI (2014)

SPAGHETI

CubeSat design to feed into a Space Launch System (SLS) launch opportunity for Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1). Carries Solar Particle Event detectors with the ability to corroborate data gathered by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Maintains a circular orbit at the moon for up to five months before eventually spiraling down to impact.

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Space Hyperspectral Algae Research Cubesat (SHARC) (2014) and Hypercube (2015)

Space Hyperspectral Algae Research Cubesat and Hypercube

Cubesats, equipped with a hyperspectral imagers to study the algae blooms in the Great Lakes.

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ISS Launched Lunar Microsat (2014)

ISS Launched Lunar Microsat

This microsat uses its own propulsion systems to go to exciting places, such as GEO, Lagrange points, Near-earth Asteroids, and the moon.

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Crewed Missions

Venus

Human Exploration using Real-time Robotic Operations – Venus (HERROV) (2010)

Human Exploration using Real-time Robotic Operations

A crewed mission to Venus, based on the previous Compass mission HERRO. Allows for real time investigation of Venus by sending astronauts to orbit the target and telerobotically explore them using robotic systems.

Mars

Human Exploration using Real-time Robotic Explorations (HERRO) – Crew Telerobotic Control Vehicle (CTCV) (2009)

Transports crew to and from Mars and provide a telerobotics platform for controlling surface science telerobots from orbit. Provides artificial gravity (0.3 g) and radiation protection for crew during a 500 day orbital stay.  Using a 12-hour orbit, two shifts of scientists and teleoperators can explore each side of Mars during each Mars day. The Crew Telerobotic Control Vehicle (CTCV) controls truck and rockhounds (telerobotic geologists) remotely from orbit. Interface for an optional sample recover craft to rendezvous and return samples.

Hybrid Propulsion Stage (HPS) (2018) and variants

Hybrid Propulsion Stage

Launched on a single SLS, the 670 kW, Hybrid Propulsion stage delivers four crew from Lunar Distant Retrograde Orbit to an elliptical 5 SOL Mars orbit and back to earth over a 1060 day duration (including a 300 day stay at Mars). The vehicle can also be modified to instead deliver a 40 mt lander to Mars.

Various investigations, or “one-offs” were performed on this design, including:

HPS High Density Electronics Analysis (HIDEA) (2019)

Investigated the design effects of using high density electronics.

HPS LOXLH2 (2019)

Investigated trading our the solar electric propulsion for a liquid oxygen/ liquid hydrogen propulsion system.

HPS Nested Hall (2019)

Investigated trading out the baseline SEP thrusters with those provided by the NEXT-Step program.

HPS VASIMIR (2019)

Investigated trading out the baseline SEP thrusters with VASIMIR propulsion.

Piloted Mars Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) (2012)

Piloted Mars Solar Electric Propulsion

A crewed mission to deliver six crew from Earth-Moon L2 to an elliptical Mars orbit and back to Earth. Includes a 300 day stay in Mars orbit.

Piloted Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP) (2012)

Piloted Nuclear Electric Propulsion

A crewed mission to deliver six crew in an NEP vehicle to and from Deimos. Includes a 400 day stay at Mars.

Mars Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP)-Chemical Human Architecture Team (HAT) (2015)

Mars Solar Electric Propulsion Chemical Human Architecture Team

SLS launched Hall Effect SEP-Chem Vehicle to deliver four crew from Lunar Distant Retrograde Orbit to an elliptical Mars Orbit. Includes 300 day stay at Mars.

Hybrid Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP)/Chemical Vehicle  (2017)

Hybrid Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP)/Chemical Vehicle

Launched on a single SLS, the 400 kW, Hall SEP-Chem Vehicle delivers four crew from Lunar Distant Retrograde Orbit to an elliptical 5 SOL Mars orbit and back to earth. Includes a 300day stay at Mars.

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Moon and Earth Orbit

Orion Service Module (2007)

Orion Service Module

Vehicle Design for the Service Module Project Office. Investigated and verified several service module configurations and options.

Staged Descent Lunar Lander Concept (2006)

Staged Descent Lunar Lander Concept

The design that started it all! Compass’s first design delivers a crew of four astronauts to the lunar surface for either a 1-week sortie or 6-month outpost mission. Lunar Capture and Descent Stage (LCADS) used for lunar orbit insertion and 70% of descent burn. 3500 Ibm of science and support delivered to lunar surface. Three RL-10 delivered LOx/LH2 engines for terminal descent/ascent.

Landers, Rovers and Submarines

Hoppers

Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) Mars Geyser Hopper (2009)

Radioisotope Power Systems Mars Geyser Hopper

Design of a landed hopper, cruise deck, and aeroshell for transit and landing at the Martian South Pole. The Geyser Hopper is capable of one hop to investigate geysers. Geyser investigation science package includes cameras, a meteorology package, and MastCAM. Landing site science includes MARDI, LIDAR (laser-radar), and chemical analysis package.

Triton Hopper (2015)

Triton Hopper

A two year exploration of one of the solar systems coldest object using radioisotope power system for melting propellants, power and thermal support. Autonomously carry out detailed scientific investigations from pole to pole, including geysers by hopping from location to location.

Paper available on NTRS.

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Triton Hopper Phase II (2019)

Triton Hopper Phase II

A continuation of the Triton Hopper study, this time using a heated Li block to augment the propulsion system while hopping!

Landers

ISRU Concentrator (2019)

ISRU Concentrator

A conceptual design for an ISRU system, delivered on a single lander, that produces and stores 10 tons of oxygen per year at the south pole of the moon for users landing 150 m away.

Staged Descent Lunar Lander Concept (2006)

Staged Descent Lunar Lander Concept

The design that started it all! Compass’s first design delivers a crew of four astronauts to the lunar surface for either a 1-week sortie or 6-month outpost mission. Lunar Capture and Descent Stage (LCADS) used for lunar orbit insertion and 70% of descent burn. 3500 Ibm of science and support delivered to lunar surface. Three RL-10 delivered LOx/LH2 engines for terminal descent/ascent.

Low-Cost Lunar Robotic Lander (2006)

Low-Cost Lunar Robotic Lander

Provides a low-cost (~$100 M) capability to place small payloads (~10s of kg) of science or technology demonstrators on the lunar surface. Provides a science payload capability of: 1 week, sunlit, global access, 25 W for 15 kg payload landed on lunar surface.

Paper available on NTRS.

Advanced Lithium Ion Venus Explorer (ALIVE)- NIAC Venus Lander (formerly EVE) (2012)

Advanced Lithium Ion Venus Explorer

Study to evaluate chemical based power systems for keeping a Venus lander alive (providing power and cooling) and functional for a period of days. Partnered with Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University.

Paper available on NTRS.

Venus Landsailer (Zephyr) (2013)

Venus Landsailer (Zephyr)

Venus landsailing rover to explore the Venusian surface. Slowly sails across the plains of Venus using steady 0.5 m/s winds or currents.

Paper available on NTRS.

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Venus Weather Station (2016)

Venus Weather Station

The Venus Weather Station mission is a set of two landed stations operating at high temperature and long duration which will be able to provide periodic environmental and weather data for an entire Venus Morning to Morning (120 days). Deployed from large balloon probe (other options to deploy from dedicated aeroshell).

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Seismic and Atmospheric Exploration of Venus (SAEVe) (2017)

Seismic and Atmospheric Exploration of Venus

Venusian lander design targeting a $100M cost cap. The lander gathers IR, temperature, pressure, and chemical data during descent and for an entire Venusian night/day. Wind and seismic data is added on the surface. An option which includes a camera was also developed!

Long-Lived In-Situ Solar System Explorer (LLISSE) Tech Demo (2019)

Long-Lived In-Situ Solar System Explorer (LLISSE)

A high temperature tolerant Venus lander technology demonstrator to fly with a Discovery Mission. Designed to fit a $20M cost cap, the lander makes use of SiC electronics to survive the high temperatures and pressures without requiring a pressure vessel.

Mars Hard Lander (2013)

Mars Hard Lander

RHU (Radioisotope Heating Unit) powered Mars Penetrator design. Demonstrates how RHU-RPS (Radioisotope Power Systems) systems can enable science investigations throughout the solar system.

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Fission Powered Lander for Titan  (2017)

Fission Powered Lander for Titan 

Demonstrate a Titan Explorer Lander using a Kilopower reactor (500We) instead of plutonium systems.

Submarines and Tunnelbots

Titan Submarine (2014)

Titan Submarine

Titans seas consist of liquid hydrocarbons as opposed to water and therefore provide insight into the history of organic compounds in our solar system. This submarine would be sent to Saturn’s moon Titan to explore its largest Northern Sea, Kraken Mare. This work was funded by NASA Innovative and Advanced Concepts (NIAC).

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Check out this video of the Titan Submarine!

Paper on NTRS.

Titan Turtle (2016)

Titan Turtle

Builds on the previous Titan Submarine design to autonomously explore extraterrestrial seas, especially Ligeia Mare and Kraken Mare.

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 Europa Cryobot (also called Tunnelbot) (2018)

The cryobot enables sampling and analysis of liquid water from Europa’s oceans covered by the shallowest ice thickness, or in ice that has been in contact with the liquid oceans in the relatively recent past.

Sample Return

Mars

Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) (2010)

Mars Ascent Vehicle

The MAV will launch a Martian surface sample into Low Mars Orbit where the sample will await a ride home to Earth. The Mars ascent vehicle must be developed to survive a variety of conditions including the trans Mars journey, Martian entry descent and landing and the harsh Martian surface environments while maintaining the ability to deliver its payload to Low Mars Orbit. Delivered to Mars within a Mars Science Lab Cruise Deck and Aeroshell for transit to Mars, Aerobrake Capture, Entry/Decent/Landing (EDL). Mars Cruise Stage delivers SkyCrane with Lander/Rover/MAV to Mars. SkyCrane provides EDL to Mars surface. Elevator deployed on Mars Surface to Launch MAV.

Mars Earth Return Vehicle (MERV) (2009)

Mars Earth Return Vehicle

Vehicle to rendezvous with a Martian sample in low Mars orbit and return it to Earth. Trades propulsion system options between all solar electric propulsion (SEP), SEP chemical, all chemical, and chemical/aerobraking. Completes a rendezvous with orbiting an Sample Collection Pod.

Mars Moon Sampler: Phobos/Deimos Lunar Lander (2008)

Phobos/Deimos Lunar Lander

Mission to determine the origins of Phobos and Deimos. Uses solar electric propulsion (SEP) to travel to the moons and back to Earth. The New Frontiers Class mission returns six surface and interior samples of the moons to the Earth, totaling 1 kg of material. Requires precision landing of the spacecraft on both moons. Returns the samples to Earth by releasing the science capsule during Earth flyby.

MAV Spun Upper Stage (2012)

MAV Spun Upper Stage

Designed to minimize the launch mass of the Mars Ascent Vehicle be using a simple spun second stage, which is inertially pointed by the first stage.

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In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) Sample Return  (2016)

In-situ Resource Utilization Mars Ascent Vehicle Sample Return 

Demonstrate an ISRU / Hybrid Propulsion design which enables a Mars Sample Return Mission. Uses previous Compass designs, coupled with ISRU.

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Asteroids

Near Earth Asteroid Sampler (NEARER) (2008)

Near Earth Asteroid Sampler

Solar electric propulsion enabled sample returns from two near Earth orbiting asteroids (Nereus and 1996 FG3) over a 7-year mission.

Launchers and Stages

Stages

Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Stage for Mercury Lander (2009)

Solar Electric Propulsion Stage for Mercury Lander

SEP Stage to propel a Mercury Lander (Lander designed by the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University for the Decadal Study). Leverages NEXT xenon gridded ion thrusters and an advanced high-temperature solar array.

Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Stage (2007)

Solar Electric Propulsion Stage

SEP Stage to deliver a 2400 kg probe on a Saturn trajectory. Relies on the probe for guidance, navigation, and control, command and data handling, and communications.

Uranus Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Stage (2010)

Uranus Solar Electric Propulsion Stage

SEP Stage to deliver a payload, being designed by the Applied Physics Laboratory, to Uranus.

Fetch: Asteroid Return Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Stage (2011)

Fetch: Asteroid Return Solar Electric Propulsion Stage

SEP Stage to rendezvous with and then capture an asteroid. Then returns the asteroid to LEO (Low Earth Orbit). This design, done with the Keck Institute, eventually turned into the Asteroid Rendezvous and Retrieval Mission (ARRM). After ARRM was canceled, much of the Fetch design was rolled into the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)- the first element of Gateway!

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Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Tug (2012)

Solar Electric Propulsion Tug

SEP tug concept to push the non-functioning satellites to a new orbit. This design used Envisat as a representative satellite

MAV Spun Upper Stage (2012)

MAV Spun Upper Stage

Designed to minimize the launch mass of the Mars Ascent Vehicle be using a simple spun second stage, which is inertially pointed by the first stage.

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Split Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP)/Chemical (2014)

Split Solar Electric Propulsion

Architecture that utilizes SEP Vehicles to deliver landers to Mars. Pre-positions the chemical return stage for a crewed mission.

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High Delta-V Retrofit for Mars Cargo (HDR) (2015)

High Delta-V Retrofit for Mars Cargo

Combines a high power SEP module with a commercial Block 0.5 Asteroid Return Vehicle to deliver 42mt Mars landers and return chemical stages to Mars in under 1400 days (including spiral out).

Launchers

Demonstrate an ISRU / Hybrid Propulsion design which enables a Mars Sample Return Mission. Uses previous Compass designs, coupled with ISRU.

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Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) (2010)

Mars Ascent Vehicle

The MAV will launch a Martian surface sample into Low Mars Orbit where the sample will await a ride home to Earth. The Mars ascent vehicle must be developed to survive a variety of conditions including the trans Mars journey, Martian entry descent and landing and the harsh Martian surface environments while maintaining the ability to deliver its payload to Low Mars Orbit. Delivered to Mars within a Mars Science Lab Cruise Deck and Aeroshell for transit to Mars, Aerobrake Capture, Entry/Decent/Landing (EDL). Mars Cruise Stage delivers SkyCrane with Lander/Rover/MAV to Mars. SkyCrane provides EDL to Mars surface. Elevator deployed on Mars Surface to Launch MAV.*

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