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Mars Science Laboratory


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Launching Curiosity to Mars!

Successfully Launched
Nov. 26, 2011, 10:02 a.m. EST
(7:02 a.m. PST)
Key Facts
Mission Status:
Curiosity is now on an 8.5-month journey to Mars. Read Launch Milestones ››

Launch Window: 11/25/11 - 12/18/11

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V-541 ››

Related Links:
Press Kit ››
Fact Sheet ››
Launch Nuclear Safety Fact Sheet ››

Curiosity's Launch Blog
MSL Spacecraft in Excellent Health
Saturday, November 26th, 2011, 9:56:09 AM PST

A signal from NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, including the new Curiosity rover, was received by officials on the ground shortly after spacecraft separation. The spacecraft is flying free and headed for Mars after separation from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that started it on its journey to the Red Planet. Liftoff was on time at 10:02 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"Our spacecraft is in excellent health and it's on its way to Mars," said Pete Theisinger, Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. He thanked the launch team, United Launch Alliance, NASA's Launch Services Program and NASA's Kennedy Space Center for their help getting MSL into space.

"We are ready to go for landing on the surface of Mars, and we couldn't be happier," said John Grotzinger, Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist from the California Institute of Technology. "I think this mission will be a great one. It is an important next step in NASA's overall goal to address the issue of life in the universe."

Grotzinger added, "It is important to distinguish that as an intermediate mission between (Mars Exploration Rovers), which was the search for water, and future missions, which may undertake life detection, our mission is about looking for ancient habitable environments."

"Science fiction is now science fact," said Doug McCuisition, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters. "We're flying to Mars. We'll get it on the ground... and see what we find."

Blog archive ››
read the article 'NASA Launches Most Capable and Robust Rover To Mars'
NASA began a historic voyage to Mars with the Nov. 26 launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas V rocket occurred at 10:02 a.m. EST (7:02 a.m.)
Feature 11/23/2011 Mars Science Laboratory Launch Milestones ››
Press Release 11/21/2011 NASA Updates Prelaunch Events for Mars Science Lab. ››
Status Report 11/19/2011 NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Set for Saturday, Nov. 26 Launch ››
View News Archive ››

Video: Curiosity Heads to Mars
Video: Curiosity's Launch
Video: Mars in a Minute: How Do You Get to Mars?
Video: Curiosity's Trailer
Video:The Challenges of Getting to Mars: Getting a Rover Ready for Launch
Video: The Challenges of Getting to Mars: Transporting a Mars Rover
Video: Mars in a Minute: Is Mars Really Red?
Video: The Challenges of Getting to Mars: Selecting a Landing Site
Video: Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site: Gale Crater