Space Propulsion Systems

Cobham Technology Enables NASA’s InSight Mission to Mars

Cobham celebrates its role working with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) and industry partners to enable the successful landing of NASA's InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport).

InSight, the world's first outer space robotic explorer to study the deep interior of Mars, features a variety of Cobham Radiation-Hardened (RadHard) and high-reliability electronics. This includes analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), low voltage differential signalling (LVDS), operational amplifiers, voltage regulators, MIL-STD-533 transceivers and 12 different medium scale integrators (MSI) logic devices.

Additionally, Cobham pyrotechnic valves were used to isolate the Lockheed Martin supplied InSight propulsion gaseous Helium and fuel systems during launch and cruise phases of the mission. The valves were actuated from a closed to open position to allow fuel to flow to the engines at critical points during Mars entry and descent to assure a precise landing on the planet’s surface.

"Cobham is delighted to work with NASA once again on this historic mission and congratulate them on InSight’s recent landing on Mars, which will provide vital information about the Red Planet as well as the early formation of the rocky planets in our inner solar system," said Jill Kale, President, Cobham Advanced Electronics Solutions. "For over 30 years, Cobham’s RadHard and High Reliability Microelectronics solutions have engineered hundreds of space explorations due to their rich feature set and dependability."

“This exciting accomplishment continues a series of successful deliveries of pyrotechnic valves for Mars landers, rovers and orbiters, all of which positions Cobham as a critical enabler for future deep space exploration programs,” said Jim Barber, President, Cobham Mission Systems.

Launched in the spring, InSight travelled 301,223,981 miles through space to reach Mars on November 26, 2018. It will now begin its two-year mission to uncover how a rocky body forms and evolves to become a planet by investigating the interior structure and composition of Mars (crust, mantle and core). The mission will also determine the rate of Martian tectonic activity and meteorite impacts. InSight will use cutting-edge instruments to cut deep beneath the surface of the planet to study the history of Mars and measure its vital signs by seismology, temperature (heat flow) and reflexes (precision tracking).

Cobham has a long heritage as the world leader in space technologies starting from the design of John Glenn’s breathing regulator used in Project Mercury and continuing through today’s commercial programs. 

For more information about Cobham’s space products, please visit

About Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions

CAES provides critical solutions for communication on land, at sea, and in the air and space, by moving data through off-the-shelf and customized products and subsystems including RF, microwave, and high reliability microelectronics, antenna apertures and motion control solutions.

Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions supplies defense, aerospace, security, medical, and industrial markets.

About Cobham Mission Systems

The most capable critical control solutions for extreme environments.

As the world’s leading supplier of critical control solutions, we help our customers to increase the safety and mission capabilities of their personnel and equipment in extreme environments.

Our proven and trusted solutions in air-to-air refuelling, life support and weapons carriage, deliver assured performance and class-leading through-life costs that enable our customers to bring complex projects to market quickly, and with minimal risk.

About Cobham

Cobham offers an innovative range of technologies and services to solve challenging problems in commercial, defence and security markets, from deep space to the depths of the ocean.

We employ around 10,000 people primarily in the USA, UK, Europe and Australia, and have customers and partners in over 100 countries, with market leading positions in: wireless, audio, video and data communications, including satellite communications; defence electronics; air-to-air refuelling; aviation services; life support and mission equipment.

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