NASA is seeking information on commercial telecommunications satellites the agency plans to launch into the Mars orbit for future exploration missions in the planet.
The request for information proposes business models in which NASA will procure communication relay orbiters and services from a commercial provider, NASA said Wednesday.
“We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s science mission directorate.
“Depending on the outcome, the new model could be a vital component in future science missions and the path for humans to Mars,” added Grunsfeld.
NASA also wants laser or optical communications models to maintain its Mars’ communications relay infrastructure in an effort to fulfill communications requirements through the 2020s.
NASA’s existing Mars exploration program uses relay radios on its science orbiters, which carry antennas and power transmitters connecting the orbiters to surface missions.
The solicitation is open to the U.S. industry, universities, nonprofit organizations, NASA centers and research and development centers.