NASA Perseverance Rover Prepped Up For Mars Mission; 70 Days For Liftoff

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NASA is gearing up for the upcoming Mars mission and engineers are working on the Perseverance rover to prep it for the mission. NASA engineers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida have begun the process of placing the Mars-bound rover and other spacecraft components into the configuration, NASA updated in a blog post.

NASA Perseverance Rover Prepped Up For Mars Mission Ahead Liftoff

 

NASA Mars Mission Schedule

Once the engineers set the Perseverance rover and complete the configuration, it'll be placed on top of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. NASA noted that the launch period for the mission opens on July 17, leaving the premier space agency with just 70 days from now to gear up for liftoff. As noted, the Mars Perseverance rover will dig up evidence of past life on the Red Planet.

The process, called vehicle stacking, is something that NASA began back in April when the engineers started the Percevernace rover's integration and rocket-powered descent stage. NASA explains that one of the first steps in the daylong operation was to lift the descent stage onto Perseverance so that engineers could connect the two with flight-separation bolts.

NASA Perseverance Rover Prepped Up For Mars Mission Ahead Liftoff

When the time to land the rover on Mars, these three bolts will be released by small pyrotechnic charges, and the spacecraft will execute the sky crane maneuver with the help of something called the bridle exit. Next, once the rover senses that it's landed on the surface, the pyrotechnically-fired blades will sever the cords, and the descent stage flies off.

 

"Attaching the rover to the descent stage is a major milestone for the team because these are the first spacecraft components to come together for launch, and they will be the last to separate when we reach Mars," said David Gruel, the Perseverance rover assembly, test, and launch operations manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA Mars Mission Delayed?

However, currently with the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the NASA team are teleworking at both Kennedy Space Center and JPL. At the same time, NASA assures that the Perseverance team is right on track to meet the opening of the rover's launch period. This is to say that no matter what day the Perseverance rover lifts off from Earth, it will land at Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.

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