NASA, ULA Begin the Final Push for the Launch of Perseverance to Mars

NASA, ULA Begin the Final Push for the Launch of Perseverance to Mars

The following Atlas V to launch a mission to Mars is on the launch website, as United Launch Alliance (ULA) moved by way of “Launch Automobile on Stand (LVOS)” operations for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. The preparations are being performed at Area Launch Complicated-41 or SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Power Station (CCAFS).

The pad movement has begun not lengthy after the rocket had arrived in Florida.

The booster arrived into the Cape from Decatur, Alabama on Might 18 on an Antonov-124, flown by Volga-Dnepr Airways.

Normally, ULA’s transport ship, known as the R/S RocketShip – launched in 1999 and was beforehand generally known as the M/V Delta Mariner – delivers the booster to the Cape. Nonetheless, because the ship was within the Pacific Ocean on the time, the chartered plane was utilized.

The Atlas V core stage is offloaded from the Antonov-124 at CCAFS. Photograph Credit score: NASA.

As soon as the Atlas V booster was offloaded from the Antonov-124, it was moved from the CCAFS Skid Strip to the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Heart. It was saved there till the booster was wanted for LVOS operations at SLC-41.

After the booster was in place subsequent to the VIF, a cell crane raised the booster off of the trailer. Then, an overhead crane atop the VIF and the bottom dealing with fixture slowly raised the 107-foot booster to the vertical place.

The crane then assisted the Atlas V booster additional into the VIF. Quickly after the booster was lowered onto its place on the Cell Launch Platform (MLP). ULA technicians then secured the booster to the MLP itself.

Earlier in Might, the MLP and SLC-41 nominally launched the U.S.-7 mission for america Area Power. The mission carried the top-secret Boeing X-37B spaceplane on an Atlas V 501.

SLC-41 beforehand launched the Titan III and Titan IV rockets, with the primary launch being in 1965. The advanced has been completely used for Atlas V launches because the Sizzling Chicken 6 launch in 2002, which was the inaugural Atlas V launch.

The introduction of the Atlas V in 2002 marked a dramatic shift within the Atlas rocket household. In contrast to the earlier Atlas III variant, the Atlas V doesn’t use stress stabilized tanks. As a substitute, the Atlas has as what ULA calls a “common-core” booster.

The Atlas V rocket is raised by the VIFs overhead crane. Photograph Credit score United Launch Alliance.

In 2021, one other evolution in ULA’s rocket household will probably be on-line, because the Vulcan rocket conducts its inaugural launch from SLC-41.

The Atlas V for the Mars 2020 mission will fly within the 541 configuration, which implies that the rocket will sport a 5 meter fairing, 4 Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-60 stable rocket motors, and one Aerojet Rocketdyne RL-10 engine on the Centaur III higher stage. The serial quantity for this Atlas V rocket is AV-088.

The Centaur higher stage has been used since its first launch on an Atlas rocket in Might 1962. Nonetheless, just like the Atlas rocket, the Centaur has undergone quite a few modifications. The RL-10 engine runs on Liquid Hydrogen and Liquid Oxygen. Centaur will proceed to fly even after Atlas has been retired within the type of the improved Centaur V on the Vulcan rocket.

The Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-60s will ultimately get replaced by GEM-63 stable rocket motors that are being constructed by Northrop Grumman.

The Atlas V configuration for Mars 2020 is identical that was used for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL/Curiosity) mission, which landed the rover at Gale Crater in 2012.  The design for the Perseverance rover relies on the design that was used for Curiosity.

Nonetheless, in contrast to the Curiosity rover, Perseverance can even carry an experimental helicopter, known as Ingenuity.

ULA and its heritage corporations have launched each single United States mission to Mars. The primary two American missions to Mars, Viking 1 and a pair of additionally launched from SLC-41.

The launch of Viking 2 from SLC-41. Photograph Credit score: NASA.

Different previous Mars missions launched by ULA embody the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Alternative, and the latest NASA mission to Mars, Perception.

At the moment, the Perseverance rover is positioned on the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart.

The rover has been built-in with Ingenuity and the Descent and Entry Automobile assemblies.

NASA’s Perseverance rover on the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. Photograph Credit score: NASA.

Within the coming weeks, extra preparations will probably be carried out on the Atlas V contained in the VIF. The Centaur III higher stage will probably be rolled over to the VIF at SLC-41. The identical goes for the 4 Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-60s, which will probably be connected to the primary stage booster.

The encapsulated payload will arrive on the VIF at SLC-41 after the boosters and the Centaur III is built-in into the Atlas V rocket.

The pre-launch schedule has been on a vital path, given the COVID-19 scenario. The Mars 2020 mission has to make the July 17 to Aug 11 launch window for the mission to succeed in Mars in Feb 2021.

If all goes to plan, the touchdown website for the Perseverance rover is Jezero Crater.

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