New Mars rover arrives in Florida

June 23, 2011 at 7:04 PM
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 23 (UPI) -- NASA says its next Mars rover has been delivered from California, where it was built, to Florida in preparation for launching this fall.

An Air Force C-17 transport plane carrying the Mars Science Laboratory rover, better known as Curiosity, along with the rocket-powered descent stage that will fly the rover during the final moments before landing on Mars, arrived late Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the agency said in a release Thursday.

The rover and its descent state began the journey at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"The design and building part of the mission is nearly behind us now," JPL's David Gruel, manager of the Mars Science Laboratory assembly, test and launch operations since 2007, said. "We're getting to final checkouts before sending the rover on its way to Mars."

Curiosity, about twice as long and more than five times as heavy as any previous Mars rover, will use its 10 science instruments to explore and analyze the martian surface during a mission set to last two Earth years.

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