Sierra Nevada descent brake mechanism aids in safe, controlled Curiosity rover landing


SPARKS, Nev., 9 Aug. 2012. Sierra Nevada Corp.’s (SNC’s) Space Systems, with the precision landing of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover, has provided critical hardware for 11 missions to Mars, including spacecraft orbiting or landing on the Red Planet, reveals a representative.

SNC’s descent brake mechanism controlled the speed of the tethered descent of the exploratory NASA rover to the surface of Mars prior to a gentle landing. During the “seven minutes of terror” approach and landing to Mars, the MSL and its systems performed as anticipated and assisted in the landing using a novel sky-crane system. In addition to safely lowering Curiosity, SNC provided nine gear box assemblies in the Sample Handling System of Curiosity. The system controls critical science instruments, such as the drill used to cut samples from rock and the scoop that collects loose rock and soil samples.

“We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the whole MSL team for showing us all how the amazing gets done. It has been a program of a lifetime for us to be part of and we are very grateful to have been given the opportunity by NASA to be part of planetary exploration history,” says Mark Sirangelo, head of SNC Space Systems and corporate vice president of SNC.

To date, SNC has operated more than 4,000 mechanisms on more than 400 spacecraft.


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