The shipping container with the Mars 2020 rover was unloaded from a U.S. military cargo plane Wednesday after landing at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston
Two U.S. Air Force cargo planes delivered the Mars 2020 rover, cruise stage, descent module and the Mars Helicopter to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week for final assembly, fueling and mounting atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in preparation for liftoff in July.
The military transport aircraft landed Wednesday at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center with hardware for the $2.6 billion Mars 2020 mission, which was delivered to NASA’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the Florida spaceport for unpacking and launch preparations.
The Mars 2020 rover, cruise stage, descent package and helicopter departed NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Feb. 11 and was trucked to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, and loaded into two C-17 cargo planes.
The rover and other flight hardware components were stored inside climate-controlled containers during the 2,300-mile (3,700-kilometer) cross-country trip.
Engineers and technicians built the rover and its support hardware inside a high bay at JPL over the ...