CNES, JAXA Sign New Cooperation Agreement on Martian Moons Sample Return Mission

Martian Moons mission approaches Deimos. (Credit: JAXA/NHK)

PARIS (CNES PR) — CNES and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) have signed an implementation arrangement covering cooperation activities in the field of flight dynamics and geodetic research as well as the French instrument MIRS (an infrared imaging spectrometer) as part of the Japanese MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) mission scheduled for launch in 2024.


Returning a Sample From Titan Using In-Situ Propellants

Visualization of sample return launch from Titan. (Credits: Steven Oleson)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

A Titan Sample Return Using In-Situ Propellants
Steven Oleson
NASA Glenn Research Center
Cleveland, Ohio

A Titan Sample Return Using In-Situ Propellants is a proposed Titan sample return mission using in-situ volatile propellants available on its surface. This approach for Titan is very different from all conventional in-situ resource utilization concepts, and will accomplish a return of great science value toward planetary science, astrobiology, and understanding the origin of life, that is an order of magnitude more difficult (in distance and ∆V) than other sample return missions.

2021 Phase I Selections

About NIAC

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program nurtures visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions with the creation of breakthroughs — radically better or entirely new aerospace concepts — while engaging America’s innovators and entrepreneurs as partners in the journey.

The program seeks innovations from diverse and non-traditional sources and NIAC projects study innovative, technically credible, advanced concepts that could one day “change the possible” in aerospace. If you’re interested in submitting a proposal to NIAC, please see our “Apply to NIAC” link ( for information about the status of our current NASA Research Announcement (NRA). For descriptions of current NIAC projects, please refer to our ”NIAC Studies” link (

To find out more, see or contact us at [email protected].

NASA Funds Research into Extrasolar Object Interceptor and Sample Return Technology

Artist’s depiction of the Extrasolar Object Interceptor (Credits: Christopher Morrison)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

Extrasolar Object Interceptor and Sample Return Enabled by Compact, Ultra Power Dense Radioisotope Batteries
Christopher Morrison
Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation – Space (USNC-Space)
Seattle, Wash.


USNC-Tech is proposing a compact 20 kWe, 500 kg dry mass, radioisotope-electric-propulsion spacecraft design powered by a novel Chargeable Atomic Battery (CAB) that is capable of ∆Vs on the order of 100 km/s with a power system specific mass of 5-8 kg/kWe. A spacecraft powered by this technology will be able to catch up to an extrasolar object, collect a sample, and return to earth within a 10-year timeframe.


Japan’s Martian Moons Mission Gets Go Ahead

Artist impression of the MMX spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA)

Martian Moons EXploration (MMX) mission to explore moons, return soil sample from Phobos.

TOKYO (JAXA Program Update) — This week (19 February 2020), the MMX mission transitioned to become a JAXA Project: an official step in mission development authorised by the Japanese government. The mission was previously in the Pre-Project phase, where the focus was on research and analysis, such as simulating landings to improve spacecraft design. The focus will now move onto the development of mission hardware and software.


JAXA, CNES to Cooperate on Hayabusa2 Sample Analysis, Martian Moons Mission

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [JAXA] has agreed to cooperate with Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) on the study-phase activities in JAXA’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission and analysis of Hayabusa2-returned samples.


UK Wants Spaceport, More ISS Research

UK_space_agencyBy Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The UK is looking to spend £25 to £50 million ($41.9 to $83.8 million) on a spaceport because it believes that “after the US, the UK has the best chance to be the second country in the world to enable spaceplane operations.”

That’s the word from the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills (DBIS), which recently published “Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision for Science & Research: A Consultation on Proposals for Long-Term Capital Investment in Science & Research.”


Sample Return System Proposed for ISS

Tether Applications, Inc. has proposed a system that would solve one of the key roadblocks to using the International Space Station for research purposes: the lack of down mass capability for returning experiments.

Dubbed SPEED, for Small Payload Express Earth Delivery, the system would use small re-entry capsules ejected for ISS by the crew. The vehicle would be de-orbited by a solar sail, re-enter the atmosphere, and be recovered in mid-air by aircraft.

Joe Carroll of Tether Applications, Inc. and Dan Rasky of NASA Ames Research Center presented the plan last month during the 14th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference. Selected slides from the presentation follow after the break.


Interorbital Plans Tests, Offers Lunar Samples for Only $3.4 Million Per Pound

Interorbital will be conducting engine tests over the next few months for its SeaStar launch vehicle, Flight Global reports.  If the tests are successful, the California company could conduct flight tests of the rocket off the California coast at the end of the year.

The company is planning to launch a lunar sample return mission in 2010. It is offering advanced sales of its lunar samples at a mere $3.375 million per pound or (for you metric fans out there) $7,500 per gram. This represents a 25 percent discount on the full rate. And you only have to put 10 percent down now.

Paris Confab to Explore International Mars Sample Return Mission

2 July 2008

ESA and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) will be co-hosting, in cooperation with NASA and the International Mars Exploration Working Group (IMEWG), an International Conference on 9 and 10 July in the Auditorium of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris* to discuss the next step in the exploration of Mars.

We are still collecting data under NASA’s Phoenix, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Exploration Rover and Mars Odyssey missions, as well as under ESA’s Mars Express mission, as we prepare for even more exciting missions to come, notably NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory and ESA’s ExoMars. Mars exploration is continuing at a steady pace and future missions will integrate scientific payloads and technologies that will eventually serve the ultimate goal of carrying out a manned mission to Mars.

The international community has for a long time agreed that the next imperative step, one which will exponentially increase our knowledge and understanding of the Red Planet and its environment, is a Sample Return Mission.

International cooperation is increasingly being regarded as an enabling element of space exploration, especially when it comes to challenging endeavours. These two factors – the compelling next step in the exploration of Mars and international cooperation – prompted the IMEWG to decide to set up an ad hoc international committee to study an international architecture for a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission concept.


Long March 5 to Launch Space Station, Lunar Rovers

China will use its heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket to launch space stations, lunar rovers and large satellites beginning in 2014, according to a story on the China View website.

The rocket will be built in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin, a port city 120 km (75 miles) southeast of Beijing. It will then be transported by sea to a new launch complex that China is building on the island of Hainan. China expects to be able to construct a dozen Long March 5 rockets per year.

In a separate story, Chinese officials said they expect to launch a recoverable lunar rover in 2017 that would return soil samples to Earth. They view the rover as an essential stepping stone to human missions to the lunar surface.