NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission has achieved another significant milestone on its way towards launch in November 2013. Lockheed Martin has completed building the primary structure of the MAVEN spacecraft at its Space Systems Company facility near Denver. MAVEN will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The mission’s principal investigator is Bruce Jakosky, LASP Senior Research Associate.
The primary structure of MAVEN is cube shaped at 7.5 feet x 7.5 feet x 6.5 feet high (2.3 meters x 2.3 meters x 2 meters high). Built out of composite panels comprised of aluminum honeycomb sandwiched between graphite composite face sheets and attached to one another with metal fittings, the entire structure only weighs 275 pounds (125 kilograms). Despite the primary structure’s light weight, it’s designed to support the entire spacecraft mass during the launch. At the center of the structure is the 4.25 feet (1.3 meters) diameter core cylinder that encloses the propellant tank and serves as the primary vertical load-bearing structure. The large tank will hold approximately 3,615 pounds (1640 kilograms) of fuel.
“There’s still a lot of work to go before we have the complete spacecraft, but this is a major step in getting us to the launch pad in two years,” said Jakosky. “All of the team’s hard work now will pay off when we get to Mars and see the science results.”
To view the full press release, please see: http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/2011/09/26/maven-mission-primary-structure-complete/.