NASA has delayed its launch of Mars rover due to Contamination

Article Edited by | Jhon N |


For the most part, the Mars Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter tucked into their belly are ready to fly to Mars, but some technical issues mean they will have to wait a bit longer. The new NASA launch target date is 22 July.

Last week NASA announced for the second time that it was pushing back the date. The rover launch was originally scheduled for 17 July, before being rescheduled for 20 July. The new shift from July 22 is necessary "because of a processing delay encountered during spacecraft encapsulation activities."

NASA expanded on the issue, saying, "There was a need for additional time to resolve a contamination problem in the ground support lines at NASA's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF)." NASA also released a photo of the packed-up rover at PHSF where it gets tucked into the fairings that will protect it during launch.

The slight delay is not a major concern as the start-up period extends until 11 Aug. The overall window however is critical. If NASA can't send the rover off in time, due to Earth's position in relation to Mars, it will have to wait until 2022 for its next chance.

Perseverance will take off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket assist. NASA is targeting a two-hour window for the July 22 launch starting at 6:35 am PT.

"Almost ready to go," a tweeted last week by the Perseverance rover team.

If everything goes well, on Feb. 18, 2021, Perseverance will arrive on the red planet to seek signs of past microbial life, drop off a helicopter and collect samples of Mars that may one day be brought back to Earth.