Alcatel Space has signed a contract with Russia's Babakin Space Centre (Lavochkin) to provide atmospheric descent modules for the proposed French-led Mars Netlander mission. The companies are also working on a six-wheeled Mars rover and sample return technologies.

The contract is part of French space agency CNES' plan to invest $500 million in a Mars sample return technology demonstration.

The mission, to be launched in 2007 on an Ariane 5, is intended to demonstrate aerocapture into Martian orbit and rendezvous with sample capsules fired from the Martian surface.

Source: Flight International