By Olivia Bugault


Airbus SE said Wednesday that it was selected prime contractor by the European Space Agency for the design and building of the earth return orbiter spacecraft.

The earth return orbiter contract is valued at 491 million euros ($576.7 million) and is part of a joint ESA-NASA campaign called Mars Sample Return aiming at exploring Mars.

"The five year mission will see the spacecraft head to Mars, act as a communication relay with the surface missions, perform a rendezvous with the orbiting samples and bring them safely back to Earth," the European plane maker said.

Airbus will have the overall responsibility for the earth return orbiter mission, while Thales SA's subsidiary Thales Alenia Space Turin will assemble the spacecraft among other tasks, the company said.

Airbus was also selected by the ESA as one of the two prime contractors for the design of the European Large Logistic Lander, also known as EL3, whose flights are scheduled to start in the late 2020s, it said in a separate statement.


Write to Olivia Bugault at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 14, 2020 02:46 ET (06:46 GMT)

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