Assembly & Testing at Kennedy Space Center
Although arrival in Florida was a significant milestone for the mission, there was still considerable work to be done to prepare Curiosity for launch. A team of engineers and technicians spent countless hours in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility cleanroom at Kennedy Space Center reassembling the spacecraft and conducting even more tests.
While Curiosity and its spacecraft components were getting readied for launch, United Launch Alliance personnel at Kennedy Space Center worked to get the Atlas V-541 rocket, chosen to launch Curiosity, ready for takeoff.
At Kennedy, the "backshell powered descent vehicle" containing Curiosity was placed inside the backshell and closed off with the spacecraft's heat shield. The heat shield and the spacecraft's backshell form an aeroshell that encapsulates and protects the rover from the intense heat it will experience during the final leg of the trip to Mars and the friction-filled descent through the Martian atmosphere.