Friday, November 25, 2011

Atlas V at pad for Saturday launch of Mars rover

An Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's flagship Mars rover rolled to its pad this morning in preparation for a planned 10:02 a.m. EST Saturday launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The United Launch Alliance rocket, topped with an 8,500-pound spacecraft that holds the rover Curiosity, stands 197 feet tall at Launch Complex 41. A platform holding the rocket began rolling on rails from its vertical processing tower at 8:02 a.m., and was "hard down" on the pad just under an hour later.

The complex is located just south of neighboring Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, the last launching point for a space shuttle.

There's no change in the 45 Weather Squadron's latest launch forecast, which shows a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions during the one-hour, 43-minute window. Read the full report here.

Here's an excerpt on the expected weather conditions:

"On launch day, East winds gusting in the upper teens to low 20s are expected with a small coastal shower threat with the on-shore winds. Sufficient low level moisture remains over Central Florida to monitor for a potential cloud ceiling violation with on-shore flow. The primary concerns for launch is a low cloud ceiling and cumulus clouds."

The Atlas V booster and its Centaur upper stage will be fueled for launch around 8 a.m. Saturday morning. Check in here starting at 7:30 a.m. for updates throughout the countdown and our own 8:30 a.m. launch broadcast including interviews with experts on the mission. Sign up for text message updates on your phone here.

No comments: