Mars Sample Return Program

Marotta Controls to Provide Valves for NASA’s Mars Sample Return Program

Marotta Controls, the Montville-based aerospace and defense supplier with a 65-year-plus heritage in spaceflight, has been selected by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to supply two types of valves on the Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL), a key element of NASA’s Mars Sample Return program.

The SRL will carry the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), a rocket charged with launching samples off the surface of Mars for return to Earth for study.

The Mars Perseverance rover is currently collecting and caching samples on Mars. NASA plans to land a Sample Retrieval Lander near or in Jezero Crater no earlier than 2028, bringing a small rocket (MAV) on which the samples collected by Perseverance would be loaded. Once the samples are launched off the Red Planet, another spacecraft would capture them in Mars’ orbit, and then ferry them to Earth safely and securely in the early to mid 2030s.

The NASA SRL will utilize two different components from Marotta. The first is a customized valve based on the MV130HLT, a heritage design from Marotta’s CoRe® Flow Control series. This valve will pressurize the liquid propellant tanks, starting the SRL’s engines. The second Marotta valve, the SPV795, is brand new and designed specifically to shut off the SRL’s descent engines to facilitate a safe landing; this is to accommodate the very thin atmosphere on Mars (which is less than 1 percent as dense as that of Earth). Both valves have been optimized to reduce the risk of sample contamination and safeguard the integrity of each vial’s contents.

“Space flight is in our DNA, and the fact that our valves have been vetted and chosen for such a significant and history-making undertaking speaks to that expertise,” said Max Wolfinger, vice president, Space Systems, Marotta Controls. “Valves are crucial to the safe and effective launch and landing of the SRL. We’ve been working very closely with the team at JPL to design, enhance, and further adapt our components to meet the mission-critical needs of the Mars Sample Return campaign, developed to help humankind better understand this nearby planet.”

Marotta CoRe valves are currently baselined on more than a dozen launch vehicle platforms and are being launched more than 100 times per year. The CoRe series adds to the long list of Marotta valves that support the space industry and continue to be used in ground control and deep space applications.

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