A Colorado company has been chosen to construct a rocket to bring back the first-ever samples from the planet Mars.

According to a press release from NASA, Lockheed Martin Space of Littleton, Colorado has been contracted to build the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which will bring back rock, sediment, and atmospheric samples from Mars. 

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Colorado and NASA Join Together to Make History

The rocket being constructed by Lockheed Martin will be the first rocket to be launched off of another planet. In addition, if the mission is successful, this will also be the first time that samples collected from another planet have been brought to Earth.

"This groundbreaking endeavor is destined to inspire the world when the first robotic round-trip mission retrieves a sample from another planet – a significant step that will ultimately help send the first astronauts to Mars," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.

"America's investment in our Mars Sample Return program will fulfill a top priority planetary science goal and demonstrate our commitment to global partnerships, ensuring NASA remains a leader in exploration and discovery."

 Lockheed Martin Space of Littleton, Colorado

Lockheed Martin has been building robotic vehicles and systems for over 3 decades. The company definitely has tons of hard work ahead of them, as they are expected to provide, "multiple MAV test units and a flight unit."

"Committing to the Mars Ascent Vehicle represents an early and concrete step to hammer out the details of this ambitious project not just to land on Mars, but to take off from it," said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

In addition, Lockheed Martin must, "work under the contract...designing, developing, testing, and evaluating the integrated MAV system, and designing and developing of the rocket's ground support equipment."

The contract is valued at $194 million and production is scheduled to start no later than February 25. It's predicted that the project will extend six years.

"We are nearing the end of the conceptual phase for this Mars Sample Return mission, and the pieces are coming together to bring home the first samples from another planet. Once on Earth, they can be studied by state-of-the-art tools too complex to transport into space."

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