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[b]MSL and Curiosity 'locked and loaded' for launch[/b]
Following a Launch Readiness Review on Wednesday morning (Nov. 23), NASA and contractor managers gave the launch team the go-ahead to continue working towards the liftoff of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) on Saturday, Nov. 26. No significant launch vehicle or spacecraft issues are being worked on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket or the MSL spacecraft, which includes the rover Curiosity.
"This rover, Curiosity rover, is really a rover on steroids. It's an order of magnitude more capable than anything we have ever launched to any planet in the solar system. It will go longer, it will discover more than we can possibly imagine," Colleen Hartman, assistant associate administrator in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said. "The Mars Science Lab and the rover Curiosity is locked and loaded, ready for final countdown on Saturday's launch to Mars."
The next major prelaunch milestone is rollout of the Atlas V to the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41.
"We plan on rolling the vehicle out of the Vertical Integration Facility on Friday morning," NASA Launch Director Omar Baez said. "We should be on the way to the pad by 8 a.m. [EST]."
"We've had our normal challenges and hiccups that we have in these kinds of major operations, but things have gone extremely smoothly and we're fully prepared to go on Saturday morning. We hope that the weather cooperates," Peter Theisinger, MSL project manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said.
Launch day weather conditions are predicted to be favorable, with a 30 percent chance of prohibiting liftoff.
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