Engineers working on NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission at Kennedy Space Center in Florida have begun the process of placing the Mars-bound rover and other spacecraft components into the configuration they’ll be in as they ride on top of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Stacking spacecraft components on top of each other is one of the final assembly steps before a mission launches to Mars.
“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 in Southern California, which manages rover operations. “These two assemblies will remain firmly nestled together until they are about 65 feet [20 meters] over the surface of Mars.”
The launch period for the mission opens on July 17, 2020, and runs until August 5. Arrival on Mars is planned for February 18, 2021.