The “seven minutes of terror” was followed by great applause: on Thursday evening at 9:38 p.m., NASA’s Mars mission 2020 entered the Martian atmosphere at a speed of 19,500 kilometers per hour. Seven minutes later, cheers broke out in the virtual Maxon chat and emergency plans were torn up in the NASA control center.
The risky landing was successful. Many employees who were involved in the Mars project had watched the landing maneuver on the live stream.
“We are incredibly relieved and happy about the successful landing,” says Eugen Elmiger, CEO of the Maxon Group. Many of his employees were involved in the Mars project.
“You first made a landing like this with the previous Curiosity mission,” says Robin Phillips, Head of Space-Lab. After the spacecraft whizzed through the planet’s atmosphere, it dangled under a supersonic parachute to the surface. “
The supersonic parachute is a technical masterpiece, as is the rocket landing system that was then used.” This steers itself independently – thanks to a radar. During the landing, the probe took pictures and used them to navigate autonomously to the landing point. Soon the first images of the surface of the planet appeared.
Seven minutes decide everything or nothing
The landing time is known as the “seven minutes of terror”. In these seven minutes it is decided whether a Mars probe will crash or arrive safely on the ground. “When the mission was down we could all breathe again,” jokes Phillips.
The furious maneuver was a success.
The later missions have to land plus / minus approximately ten kilometers so that the samples from the current probe can be picked up. That’s why autonomous navigation is built in this time, ”says Phillips.
Phillips is not too worried that the Maxon motors might not work. “Only people who are world class work for us.” In addition to Phillips, who originally comes from England, the team includes an American, a Swiss, a German and a Portuguese. Every single step was carried out according to the four-eyes principle, everything was tested in detail. Maxon has a system in its laboratory that can be used to simulate the conditions on Mars during the day and at night – i.e. at minus 130 or even plus 50 degrees. «As the project manager, I sign that we delivered as promised. I can do that with a clear conscience because I have confidence in my team, ”says Phillips.
Maxon learns from the best
The space industry has 50 years of experience. We can learn from her how to improve our motors even in the most demanding medical applications – such as motors that are implanted in the human body to support the heart or control the bladder. ” That is what successful Swiss companies should be able to do. “We can only manufacture the best products where price plays a minor role.”