NASA Mars 2020 Rover Arrives at Kennedy Space Center Launch Base for July Blastoff

NASA Mars 2020 Rover Arrives at Kennedy Space Center Launch Base for July Blastoff
The Mars 2020 rover is offloaded from a C-17 aircraft at the Launch and Landing Facility, formerly the Shuttle Landing Facility, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 12, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

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CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – NASA’s Mars 2020 rover has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida launch base for final processing ahead of blastoff slated for July – after departing the only home she has ever known and where she was lovingly created by engineers working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The SUV-sized Mars 2020 rover completed the cross country trip carefully crated aboard a C-17 aircraft taking off from JPL and arriving at the Launch and Landing Facility (formerly the Shuttle Landing Facility) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 12.

Soon after her arrival at the landing facility last week, the Mars 2020 rover was moved to the Florida spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at KSC , where it has been undergoing processing for the mission later this summer.

Soon after its arrival to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 12, 2020, the Mars 2020 rover was moved to the Florida spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, where it has been undergoing processing for its mission later this year in July 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The 1 ton rover was unboxed the next day on Feb 13 to start the lengthy months long process of final assembly and testing.

When all that’s done and verified she will be repackaged for encapsulation in the payload fairing several weeks before launch for her leap to space and start of her 7-month ling interplanetary journey to the Red Planet.

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, the Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize Mars’ climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

The car-sized Mars 2020 rover is targeted for liftoff on 17 July 2020 aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

She is scheduled to touch down in an area of Mars known as Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

NASA’s next Mars rover has a mass of 2,300-pound (1,040-kilogram) and carries seven science instruments.

“Last month, multiple important tests were performed on the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell inside the PHSF, including measuring the center of gravity and moments of inertia on the spin table, as well as lift activities. The rover’s heat shield and back shell arrived at Kennedy from Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colorado, on Dec. 11, 2019,” says NASA.

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will store rock and soil samples in sealed tubes on the planet’s surface for future missions to retrieve, as seen in this illustration. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The 1 ton rover is nearly a copy of the NASA’s Curiosity Mars Science Lab rover still operating on Mars – but with a completely new suite of science instruments and cameras as well as the 1st Mars Helicopter.

I was fortunate to visit with Curiosity in the KSC clean room back in 2011, 3 weeks before liftoff. A memory I’ll always cherish !

Dr. Ken Kremer/Space UpClose in the KSC clean room with NASA Curiosity Mars rover in 2011. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The Mars 2020 rover will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The launch window opens in July 2020

A naming contest for Mars 2020 is also in progress by NASA. See separate article.

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Mars 2020 and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent ULA and SpaceX launches including Solar Orbiter, In-Flight Abort and Starlink at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

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.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Ken has created hundreds of widely published Mars rover mosaics and lectures also about NASA’s Mars rovers

Ken’s upcoming outreach events:

Feb 29/Mar 1 : 7 PM, Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “SpaceX CRS-20, IFA and Starlink launch, ULA Solar Orbiter launch.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale

 

Curiosity rover investigates a huge variety of past environments preserved within Gale Crater along Vera Rubin Ridge while celebrating 2000 Sols of exploration on the Red Planet. Rover deck is backdropped by Mount Sharp in this navcam camera mosaic stitched from raw images taken on Sol 2003, Mar. 26, 2018 and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL/Marco Di Lorenzo Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

 

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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