NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, gets ready to be encapsulated and transported to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla., later this month.
At Launch Complex 41, the Atlas V rocket was moved from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad on Oct. 12 in preparation for the "Wet Dress Rehearsal" (WDR). During the afternoon, the RP-1 fuel, a highly refined kerosene, was loaded aboard and leak checks were conducted. The RP-1 will remain onboard until launch.
The WDR was conducted on Oct. 13, and all Atlas V systems were fully tested. Liquid oxygen was loaded aboard the first stage, and liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen were loaded into the second stage. The test concluded successfully, and the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen were then de-tanked from the launch vehicle. The Atlas V was set to be returned to the Vertical Integration Facility on Oct. 14. It will be rolled out to the pad once again on Nov. 23 in preparation for launch on Nov. 25.
In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF), integration of the Mars Science Laboratory systems for flight continues on schedule. The two halves of the payload fairing have arrived at the PHSF and are undergoing cleaning in preparation for encapsulation of the spacecraft later this month. MSL currently is set to be transported to Launch Complex 41 on or about Nov. 2.
The MLS Curiosity rover 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.
George H. Diller 321-867-2468
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.