CANAVERAL, FL – NASA’s
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.
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.
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
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
and manufactured by prime contractor Lockheed Martin and
is responsible for testing, launch processing and spacecraft flight operations.
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.”
will be the first planetary spacecraft to launch from Vandenberg AFB.
aeroshell and cruise stage, was
transported inside its environmentally controlled shipping container courtesy
of the Air Force Air Mobility Command from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora,
Colorado to the Astrotech
facility at Vandenberg for final launch processing. This includes system-level
checkout, propellant loading and a final spin balance test.
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.”
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