The Timken Company has
supplied bearings for a new descent brake system to be used on NASA's upcoming
Mars Science Laboratory mission.
Scheduled to launch in 2009, the Mars Science Laboratory rover capsule will
separate from the spacecraft to enter the Martian atmosphere. In a series of
steps, an aeroshell and then a parachute will slow the rover's descent. In the
final stage, a "sky crane" descent brake system will lower the rover
on a 25-foot-long tether to a precise landing on the surface within seven seconds.
Timken provided needle roller bearings for installation in the SpaceDev descent
brake system. Timken has supplied super-precision ball bearings to SpaceDev
for various applications on previous Mars rovers.
The mission of the robotic Mars Science Laboratory is to analyze soil and rock
samples. The craft will have greater range than any previous Mars rover.