NASA pushes back Mars rover again, citing 'launch vehicle processing delays'

James Marshall
July 1, 2020

The launch of NASA's next Mars rover mission has been delayed to no earlier than July 30 because of a launch vehicle processing issue, the latest in a series of slips that have now used up almost half of the available launch opportunities for the mission.

"A liquid oxygen sensor line presented off-nominal data during the Wet Dress Rehearsal, and additional time is needed for the team to inspect and evaluate", the blog post reads.

Managers are now targeting no earlier than July 30 for a liftoff from Cape Canaveral, eating up half of the monthlong launch window. Previous technical concerns - including crane trouble at the pad - bumped the launch from the original July 17 to the 20th and then 22nd. 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. 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.

But there's a nugget of good news in the latest update as well: Mars 2020 has a bit more time to get off the ground than originally thought. The chance to fly to Mars comes up only every 26 months.

It is NASA's most ambitious Mars mission yet, totalling around $3 billion.

The launch of NASA's next Mars rover has been pushed back yet again. The rover is expected to land in Mars' Jezero crater on February 18th, 2021. It's an important mission, too, as it could shed light on the possibility of past life on Mars, the planet's geological history and even the possibility of returning samples to Earth. The duration of the mission is one Mars year, which means about 687 Earth days. NASA will work with ESA on those two missions.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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