Mars 2020 Rover Undergoing Processing at Florida Spaceport

Mars 2020 rover at Kennedy Space Center
The launch of the Mars 2020 rover is targeted for mid-July. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Soon after its arrival to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last week, 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. The spacecraft was flown to Kennedy from California aboard a C-17 aircraft on Feb. 12.

Targeted for mid-July 2020, the mission will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch is managed by the Launch Services Program.

The Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of Mars.

Mars 2020 Rover Makes its Way to Kennedy

Mars 2020 rover arrival at Kennedy
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

Leaving from its temporary home at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the Mars 2020 rover completed a cross-country trip Wednesday afternoon. It arrived on a C-17 aircraft to the Launch and Landing Facility (formerly the Shuttle Landing Facility) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Mars 2020 rover delivered to Kennedy Space Center
After its arrival at Kennedy from California, the Mars 2020 rover is prepared to be moved to the Florida spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility for unboxing. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

The spacecraft was then moved to Kennedy’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF), where it is being unboxed today. Before making the trek to the Florida spaceport, the Mars 2020 rover traveled about 70 miles southeast from JPL to March Air Reserve Base.

Carrying seven different scientific instruments, the Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021. Liftoff, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket, is targeted for mid-July from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy is managing the launch.

About the size of a car with dimensions similar to the Curiosity rover, the Mars 2020 rover was developed under NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The mission aims to search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth and pave the way for human exploration of Mars.

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. The spacecraft was manufactured at JPL.

Check out the mission’s website for more in-depth information on the Mars 2020 rover.

New Solar Orbiter Launch Date

Solar Orbiter graphicNASA, ESA (European Space Agency), Airbus and United Launch Alliance now are targeting 11:03 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 9, for the launch of the Solar Orbiter mission on an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.  The launch has a two-hour window.

The two-day launch delay was caused by two items that delayed transport of the spacecraft to the pad. The first item was a schedule conflict on Wednesday with a commercial mission launch from a nearby launch pad. The second item was the weather Thursday morning.

The transport of the spacecraft from the processing facility to the launch complex for mate operations now is planned for Friday, Jan. 31.

NASA Continues With Important Testing of Mars 2020 Rover Aeroshell

Mars 2020 rover aeroshell spin table tests
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, tests to measure the center of gravity and moments of inertia for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell are performed on the spin table inside the Florida spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Tests to measure the center of gravity and moments of inertia for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell were performed on the spin table inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The rover is being manufactured at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and, once complete, will be delivered to Kennedy in mid-February. The rover’s heat shield and back shell arrived at Kennedy last month.

The mission is scheduled to launch this summer from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy is managing the launch.

Carrying seven different scientific instruments, the Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021. More information can be found on the mission’s website.

Mars 2020 Rover Lift Activities Performed at Kennedy Space Center

Mars 2020 rover aeroshell lift activities
Lift activities for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell are conducted inside Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on Jan. 14, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Lift activities for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell were conducted inside Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The activities included installing the inverted lift fixture and lifting the aeroshell assembly to the spin table for mass properties measurements.

The Mars 2020 rover mission will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this summer. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy will manage the launch.

About the size of a car with dimensions similar to the Curiosity rover, the Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021.

Visit the mission website for more information.

NASA, SpaceX Teams Preparing for 10:30 a.m. EST Launch

In-Flight Abort Test launch day
Today’s NASA and SpaceX in-flight abort test launch is set for 10:30 a.m. EST.

Hello, and good morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! Welcome to coverage of this morning’s in-flight abort test.

NASA and SpaceX teams are targeting 10:30 a.m. EST today for the demonstration, which is set to begin in about 25 minutes from Launch Complex 39A. The six-hour launch window ends at 2 p.m. EST. NASA Commercial Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover are present for this critical test.

Follow along on the blog as we track the milestones of today’s final, major test before the astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Also, live coverage of the event can be seen on NASA TV and the agency’s website starting at 10:12 a.m.

The latest weather reports from meteorologists with the 45th Space Wing predict a 60% chance of favorable conditions for launch toward the opening of the window, with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Crew Dragon Spacecraft, Falcon 9 Rocket Set for In-Flight Abort Test

If-flight abort test Jan. 19, 2020
Today’s in-flight abort test will demonstrate the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket are vertical and set for a 10:30 a.m. EST launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The test will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test launch window ends at 2 p.m. EST this afternoon.

Launch coverage will begin at 10:10 a.m., followed at noon by a post-test news conference with representatives from NASA and SpaceX. The launch and post-test news conference will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)

COUNTDOWN 

Hour/Min/Sec        Events

45:00                          SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load

37:00                          Dragon launch escape system is armed

35:00                          RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins

35:00                          1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins

16:00                          2nd stage LOX loading begins

07:00                          Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch

05:00                          Dragon transitions to internal power

01:00                          Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks

01:00                          Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins

00:45                          SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch

00:03                          Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start

00:00                          Falcon 9 liftoff

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continue to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Targeted Time for NASA, SpaceX In-Flight Abort Liftoff Pushed Back to 10:30 a.m. EST

In-Flight Abort Test launch day
The targeted time for NASA and SpaceX’s in-flight abort test launch has been moved back to 10:30 a.m. EST

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10:30 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test launch window ends at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 10:10 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 10:30 a.m. liftoff
  • Noon – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

The time adjustment for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft allows for the best time to perform the abort demonstration based on weather conditions.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continues to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

In-Flight Abort Test Targeted for 10 a.m. EST Launch

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test L-0
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10 a.m. EST for launch of the in-flight abort test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a six-hour launch window ending at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 9:40 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 10 a.m. liftoff
  • 11:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

The time adjustment for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft allows for the best time to perform the abort demonstration based on weather conditions.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continues to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA, SpaceX Targeting 9 a.m. EST for In-Flight Abort Test Launch

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test illustration
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 9 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test. Illustration credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 9 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a six-hour launch window ending at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Teams continue to monitor the weather conditions for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the best time to launch the abort demonstration.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continue predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 8:40 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 9 a.m. liftoff
  • 10:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.