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STATUS REPORT
09.30.2011

Curiosity: Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report

Connecting Curiosity's Heat Shield and Back Shell
Connecting Curiosity's Heat Shield and Back Shell

The Curiosity rover and its spacecraft components are getting readied for launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

At Launch Complex 41, the four solid rocket boosters were attached to the Atlas first stage booster. The Centaur upper stage was hoisted atop the Atlas on Sept. 21. The initial launch vehicle power-on activities are planned for this week.

At NASA Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the team is integrating the spacecraft in preparation for payload fairing encapsulation and subsequent attachment to the Atlas V in about five weeks. The descent stage to rover mate was completed last week. That configuration, known as the powered descent vehicle (PDV), was installed in the backshell. The entry vehicle configuration, which includes the heat shield, will be completed this week.

Curiosity has 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars has had environments favorable for microbial life, including chemical ingredients for life. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release the gasses so that its spectrometer can analyze and send the data back to Earth.
Mars Science Laboratory Aeroshell with Curiosity Inside
Mars Science Laboratory Aeroshell with Curiosity Inside

More information about Curiosity is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/msl or http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.

Tracy Young 321-867-2468
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
tracy.g.young@nasa.gov


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