The first stage of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will launch the MMS spacecraft into orbit was hoisted into position Wednesday at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Vertical Integration Facility at SLC-41 is the integration and checkout area for the Atlas V as it is built up to launch configuration. The next step in that process is the addition of a pair of solid-fueled boosters. The Centaur upper stage to go to the pad and be placed atop the first stage Feb. 11.
The four spacecraft that make up the MMS mission are in processing at the Astrotech facility near Kennedy. Thermal blanket closeouts are under way and will continue this week. Processing remains on pace for a targeted March 12 launch.
The MMS mission will study the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known a magnetic reconnection.