NASA has awarded separate contracts to five companies to perform concept studies for a future Mars orbiter mission as part of efforts to develop telecommunications and global high-resolution imaging tools to support the space agency’s exploration of the Red Planet.
The agency said Monday its Jet Propulsion Laboratory will manage four-month concept studies by Boeing (NYSE: BA), Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), Northrop Grumman (NYSE :NOC), Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA) and Space Systems/Loral.
The contractors will assess how a Mars orbiter platform can provide communications, imaging and operational support to NASA’s Journey to Mars initiative as well as examine the potential of such an orbiter to accommodate scientific instruments and optical communications systems.
“We’re excited to continue planning for the next decade of Mars exploration, ” said Geoffrey Yoder, NASA Science Mission Directorate acting associate administrator.
The agency aims to land humans on the Martian surface in the 2030s.