Launch of NASA Mars rover delayed again, 2 weeks left to fly

02 Juillet, 2020, 10:50 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Mars 2020 encapsulation

The launch for Mars was earlier planned for July 22 but has been pushed back to July 30 or later.

"Due to launch vehicle processing delays in preparation for spacecraft mate operations, NASA and United Launch Alliance have moved the first launch attempt of the Mars 2020 mission to no earlier than July 30". The good news is that NASA is trying to eke out more time in this summer's launch opportunity, now lasting until at least August 15.

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Rocket maker United Launch Alliance needs extra time to deal with a liquid oxygen sensor line that showed questionable readings during a recent practice countdown, officials said Tuesday. Any additional days that could be added beyond August 15 likely will have far shorter windows each day than the two-hour window available for a July 30 launch. ULA's president and CEO, Tony Bruno, confirmed via Twitter Wednesday that it was a faulty sensor that had caused the delay. A contamination issue sparked another delay, pushing the launch back to July 22. Russian Federation and the European Space Agency had to bow out, delaying their Mars rover until 2022 because of delayed spacecraft testing and travel limitations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks in part to the spread of the novel coronavirus, ESA's rover will now lift off in the summer of 2022. The orbital paths of Earth and Mars align just once every 26 months, so it's imperative that Perseverance launch within its window to avoid a costly two-year delay.

Named after an ancient Chinese poem, the Tianwen-1 consists of an orbiter, rover and lander, and is expected to collect samples from the planet's surface, the launch centre said.

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