Launch Week Begins with Flight Readiness Review, Dress Rehearsal

Launch week is underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where NASA’s InSight spacecraft is being prepared for its upcoming flight to Mars. Mission and launch officials gathered Monday for the InSight flight readiness review. Teams are preparing to launch InSight on its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Saturday, May 5, at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT).

Prelaunch activities continue today as launch team members take part in a countdown dress rehearsal.

InSight will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martian surface. It will study the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes. InSight will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the Red Planet’s deep interior. The resulting insight into Mars’ formation will provide a better understanding of how other rocky planets, including Earth, were created.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the InSight mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by its Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver. Several European partners, including France’s space agency, the Centre National d’Étude Spatiales, and the German Aerospace Center, are supporting the mission. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is providing the Atlas V launch service. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Attached to Atlas V Rocket for Launch

NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mars Lander is transported to Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mars Lander is transported to Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Daniel Herrera
Technicians and engineers position NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mars Lander atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Technicians and engineers position NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mars Lander atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Leif Heimbold

NASA’s next Mars lander is one significant step closer to beginning its journey. Secured inside its payload fairing, the agency’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft was transported from the Astrotech facility to Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The payload fairing was hoisted up inside the Vertical Integration Facility and attached to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Liftoff is scheduled for May 5, 2018.

InSight will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martian surface. It will study the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes. InSight will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the Red Planet’s deep interior. The resulting insight into Mars’ formation will provide a better understanding of how other rocky planets, including Earth, were created.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the InSight mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by its Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver. Several European partners, including France’s space agency, the Centre National d’Étude Spatiales, and the German Aerospace Center, are supporting the mission. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is providing the Atlas V launch service. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

Atlas V Prepared to Boost NASA’s InSight to Mars

Atlas V and Centaur erected at Vandenberg Air Force Base launch padAt Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster and Centaur upper stage are lifted for positioning on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 3. The rocket will launch NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, spacecraft for its trip to Mars.

While processing of the InSight spacecraft continues in the Astrotech facility at Vandenberg, the Atlas V booster was transported to the launch pad on March 3, 2018 (photo on the left). Three days later, technicians and engineers assisted as the Centaur upper stage was mated atop the Atlas V (photo on the right).

On March 8, the boattail fairing was mated atop the Centaur. The boattail is an adaptor providing an interface between the Centaur and the payload fairing encapsulating InSight. Once encapsulated in its payload faring, InSight will be transported to the launch pad and mounted atop the Atlas V. Liftoff is scheduled for May 5, 2018.

InSight will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martian surface. It will study the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes. InSight will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the planet’s deep interior. The resulting insight into Mars’ formation will provide a better understanding of how other rocky planets, including Earth, were created.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the InSight mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by its Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver. Several European partners, including France’s space agency, the Centre National d’Étude Spatiales, and the German Aerospace Center, are supporting the mission. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is providing the Atlas V launch service. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

Atlas booster photo credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin
Centaur lift photo credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Arron Taubman

NASA’s InSight arrives at Vandenberg, Begins Preflight Processing

NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSightInside the Astrotech processing facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, spacecraft has been mounted on to a rotation fixture for testing. InSight is scheduled to launch May 5, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for its trip to Mars.

InSight was developed and built by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colorado, and arrived at Vandenberg on Feb. 28 aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft. The spacecraft then was transported to the Astrotech facility at the West Coast launch site.

This mission will be the first to look deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes. It will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the Red Planet’s deep interior. The resulting insight into Mars’ formation will provide a better understanding of how other rocky planets, including Earth, were created.

Photo credit: USAF 30th Space Wing/Alex Valdez