The nose cone containing NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is maneuvered into place atop its Atlas V rocket. The image was taken at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2020. Credits: NASA/KSC
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission cleared its Flight Readiness Review Wednesday, an important milestone on its way to the launch pad. The meeting was an opportunity for the Mars 2020 team and launch vehicle provider United Launch Alliance to report on the readiness of the spacecraft, along with the Atlas V rocket, flight and ground hardware, software, personnel, and procedures. The daily launch window on Thursday, July 30, opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT.
“Our deepest thanks go to the many teams who have worked so hard to get Perseverance ready to fly during these challenging times,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This mission is emblematic of our nation’s spirit of meeting problems head-on and finding solutions together. The incredible science Perseverance will enable and the bold human missions it will help make possible are going to be inspirations for us all.”
“We’re pleased to be passing another milestone with the completion of the Flight Readiness Review,” said Matt Wallace, deputy project manager for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. “But we’ll keep our heads down through the final prelaunch activities and the opening of the launch window next week, until we’re certain this spacecraft is safely on its way. Mars is a tough customer, and we don’t take anything for granted.”
With all the connections between the spacecraft and Atlas V launch vehicle complete, the majority of business remaining for Mars 2020’s Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) team involves checking out every one of the multitude of systems and subsystems onboard the rover, aeroshell, cruise stage, and descent stage.
“NASA can’t wait to take the next steps on the surface of Mars with Perseverance,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The science and technology of this mission are going to help us address major questions about the geologic and astrobiologic history of Mars that we’ve been working on for decades, and we’re excited to take the whole word with us on this journey.”
“At this point, the spacecraft has been powered on and will remain so around the clock,” said Dave Gruel, ATLO manager for Mars 2020. “The launch operations team will continue to monitor the health of the spacecraft to ensure it’s ‘Go’ for launch – nothing glamorous, but an important part of the job.”
The spacecraft and launch teams have one more major review to complete. Scheduled Monday, July 27, the Launch Readiness Review is the last significant checkup before the mission receives final approval to proceed with launch.
“At present, everything is green across the board,” said Wallace. “Everyone involved with this endeavor, from the spacecraft team to the launch vehicle team to those working the range, are looking forward to seeing Perseverance begin its long-awaited flight to Mars.”