NASA’s InSight Lander Arrives at Vandenberg Launch Base for May Blastoff to Mars

Lockheed Martin delivered NASA’s InSight
spacecraft to its California launch site on Feb. 28, 2018. The Mars lander was
shipped aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane from Buckley Air Force Base,
Colorado to Vandenberg Air Force Base where it will undergo final processing in
preparation for a May 2018 launch.

Ken Kremer 
Mar 2018

next mission to Mars, the InSight Mars lander, has
arrived at its launch base in California to prepare it for blastoff to the Red
Planet in May 2018 –
following a two-year postponement to repair a
prime science instrument supplied by France.

InSight was flown cross country by a U.S. Air Force C-17 from
spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin Space, Denver and delivered to Vandenberg
Air Force Base on Feb. 28, to begin final preparations for a launch this May.

Liftoff of NASA’s InSight lander is slated for May 5 aboard
a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket.

The May 5 launch window opens at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT) and
remains open through 6:05 a.m. PDT (9:05 a.m. EDT).   The
overall launch window to the Red Planet Mars lasts until June 8.
landing is
scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018 at Elysium

The goal of the Interior Exploration using Seismic
Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission is to accomplish
an unprecedented study of the deep interior of the most Earth-like planet in
our solar system.

will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martian surface, studying
the planet’s interior by listening for marsquakes and measuring the planet’s
heat output.”

InSight was designed
and manufactured by prime contractor Lockheed Martin
is responsible for testing, launch processing and spacecraft flight operations.

“InSight is an amazing spacecraft and we can’t wait to
see it on the surface of Mars later this year,” said Stu Spath, InSight
program manager and director of Deep Space Exploration Systems at Lockheed
Martin Space. “We’ve worked closely with NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL) to design and build this spacecraft. Its
environmental testing is complete, and now the launch team is moving to California
to perform final preparations for a May launch.”

Lander Solar Array Test. 
While in the landed configuration for the last time before
arriving on Mars, NASA’s InSight lander was commanded to deploy its solar
arrays to test and verify the exact process that it will use on the surface of
the Red Planet. During the test on Jan. 23, 2018 from the Lockheed Martin clean
room in Littleton, Colorado, engineers and technicians evaluated that the solar
arrays fully deployed and conducted an illumination test to confirm that the
solar cells were collecting power. 
Credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin

will be the first planetary spacecraft to launch from Vandenberg AFB.

The 1,380-pound spacecraft, consisting of the lander,
aeroshell and cruise stage,
transported inside its
environmentally controlled shipping container courtesy
of the Air Force Air Mobility Command from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora,
to the Astrotech
facility at Vandenberg for final launch processing. This includes
checkout, propellant loading and a final spin balance test.

“The Air Force
C-17 crew from the 21st Airlift Squadron gave us a great ride,” said Tom
Hoffman, InSight project manager, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, California. “Next time InSight travels as high and as fast, it
will be about 23 seconds into its launch, on the way to Mars.”

InSight Mars Spacecraft to California for Launch.
Personnel supporting NASA’s InSight mission to Mars load the
crated InSight spacecraft into a C-17 cargo aircraft at Buckley Air Force Base,
Denver, for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The spacecraft,
built in Colorado by Lockheed Martin Space, was shipped February 28, 2018, in
preparation for launch from Vandenberg in May 2018. Credit: NASA/Lockheed

for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed
Martin, Orbital ATK and more
reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing
Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: – –
twitter @ken_kremer –

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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