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MSL and Curiosity 'Locked and Loaded' for Launch
MSL and Curiosity 'Locked and Loaded' for Launch
23 Nov 2011
(Source: NASA)

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory
This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Following Wednesday morning's Launch Readiness Review, NASA and contractor managers gave the launch team the go-ahead to continue working towards liftoff of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) on Saturday, Nov. 26. No significant launch vehicle or spacecraft issues are being worked on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket or the MSL spacecraft, which includes the rover Curiosity.

"This rover, Curiosity rover, is really a rover on steroids. It's an order of magnitude more capable than anything we have ever launched to any planet in the solar system. It will go longer, it will discover more than we can possibly imagine," said Colleen Hartman, assistant associate administrator in NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "The Mars Science Lab and the rover Curiosity is locked and loaded, ready for final countdown on Saturday's launch to Mars."

The next major prelaunch milestone is rollout of the Atlas V to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41.

"We plan on rolling out the vehicle out of the Vertical Integration Facility on Friday morning," said NASA Launch Director Omar Baez. "We should be on the way to the pad by 8 a.m."

"We've had our normal challenges and hiccips that we have in these kinds of major operations, but things have gone extremely smoothly and we're fully prepared to go on Saturday morning. We hope that the weather cooperates," said Peter Theisinger, MSL project manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Launch day weather is predicted to be favorable, with only a 30 percent chance of conditions prohibiting liftoff.

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Last Updated: 23 Nov 2011