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NASA INSIGHT MISSION STATUS REPORT: Mars Spacecraft Shipped to California for March Launch Dec. 17, 2015
17 Dec 2015
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Lockheed Martin Space Systems/NASA Kennedy Space Center/NASA Headquarters)

Shipping InSight Mars Spacecraft to California
A crate containing NASA's Mars-bound InSight spacecraft is loaded into a C-17 cargo aircraft at Buckley Air Force Base, Denver, for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, was shipped Dec. 16, 2015, for launch in March 2016.
Names-to-Mars Chip for InSight Spacecraft
The dime-size microchip in this close-up image carries 826,923 names that will go to Mars on NASA's InSight lander in 2016. The image was taken inside a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, where the lander was built.

NASA's next Mars spacecraft has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, for final preparations before a launch scheduled in March 2016 and a landing on Mars six months later.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built and tested the spacecraft and delivered it on Dec. 16 from Buckley Air Force Base in Denver to Vandenberg, on the central California Coast.

Preparations are on a tight schedule for launch during the period March 4 through March 30. The work ahead includes installation and testing of one of the mission's key science instruments, its seismometer, which is scheduled for delivery to Vandenberg in January.

"InSight has traveled the first leg of its journey, getting from Colorado to California, and we're on track to start the next leg, to Mars, with a launch in March," said InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The seismometer, provided by France's national space agency (CNES), includes a vacuum container around its three main sensors. Maintaining the vacuum is necessary for the instrument's extremely high sensitivity; the seismometer is capable of measuring ground motions as small as the width of an atom. A vacuum leak detected during testing of the seismometer was repaired last week in France and is undergoing further testing.

InSight's heat-probe instrument from Germany's space agency (DLR), the lander's robotic arm and the rest of the payload are already installed on the spacecraft.

Names Chip Placed on InSight Lander Deck
A spacecraft specialist in a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, where the InSight lander is being built, affixes a dime-size chip onto the lander deck in November 2015. This signature chip carries 826,923 names, submitted by the public online from all over the world.

InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport, is the first Mars mission dedicated to studying the deep interior of the Red Planet. This Mars lander's findings will advance understanding about the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including Earth.

One of the newest additions installed on the InSight lander is a microchip bearing the names of about 827,000 people worldwide who participated in an online "send your name to Mars" activity in August and September 2015.

InSight will be the first mission to Mars ever launched from California. The mission is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information about InSight, visit:


Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Gary Napier
Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver

George Diller
NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077 /

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Last Updated: 17 Dec 2015