SpaceDev has joined up with the Boeing team working on the Mars Ascent Vehicle Concept Study for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Boeing, Lockheed Martin and TRW each received $300,000 contracts for work on the vehicle, which will be part of a Mars sample return mission.
The Boeing ascent vehicle concept may include SpaceDev's hybrid rocket motor which uses a liquid oxidiser and soil propellant.
SpaceDev chairman and chief executive officer Jim Benson says he approached JPL after he heard that "there were problems using traditional liquid and solid propulsion systems".
SpaceDev is one of two companies working with Boeing on the study contract.
Source: Flight International