What was the heaviest artificial object to reach orbit of Mars? Delivering the heaviest object of all times should have been quite an achievement in itself. So I'd like to understand the details of stages, masses and fuels of its launch and its flight.

How it was launched? On which rocket?

How it was accelerated? What was the upper stage(s)? When has it separated from its upper stage(s)?

Could the same rocket stages and spacecraft engines deliver any heavier object, or was it close to the limit for the given rocket configuration?

What was the dry mass of the spacecraft, its full mass? How has it utilized its engine after separation from the rocket stages?

How it was braking (an aero-brake, multiple aero-brakes)?

What martian orbit it ended up at?


1 Answer 1


Starting with this list of missions to Mars, I first looked at the launchers used. The Proton-K, Ariane 5 and Titan 3 Centaur are the heaviest in the list. That eliminates most candidates.
I initially expected Curiosity to lead at 3893 kg. But the Russians have launched some heavier probes, e.g. Mars 3 at 4650 kg for the orbiter plus lander. The Mars 96 weighed 6180 kg, but failed to reach Mars. Other Proton launches were lighter.


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