NASA Delays Perseverance Rover Launch. Again

Why NASA has delayed launch of its next Mars rover

It is NASA's most ambitious Mars mission yet, totaling around $3 billion (roughly Rs. 22,647 crores).

The launch of NASA's next Mars rover mission has been delayed to no earlier than July 30 because of a launch vehicle processing issue, the latest in a series of slips that have now used up almost half of the available launch opportunities for the mission.

NASA announced in a memo that the long-awaited launch date for the Perseverance Rover, which will blast off atop United Launch Alliance's (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, has slipped to no earlier than July 30.

However, NASA noted the launch window could still be extended further into August. The space agency issued a brief statement blaming this delay on issues with the launch vehicle and says it's possible the launch could be pushed back even further. A liquid oxygen sensor line produced "off-nominal data" during a practice session, and the mission team will need extra time to evaluate what happened. Two weeks later, the agency said "a contamination concern in the ground support lines" in a payload processing facility would push the launch back two additional days, to July 22.

NASA initially said the launch must take place no later than August 15, but more recently suggested the window may be extended.

This problem occurred during a test run on 22 July.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: "It's very expensive if we have to take Perseverance and put it back into storage for a period of two years".

Curiosity has been exploring Mars for years, and NASA has been planning its successor for nearly as long.

Perseverance is one of three upcoming missions to Mars. Besides seeking signs of past microscopic Martian life, Perseverance will gather rocks and soil for eventual return to Earth.

Last week, China also launched the final satellite in its homegrown Beidou navigational system, which competes with the GPS system pioneered by the United States.

This is when Mars and Earth are the closest to each other in their orbital paths, giving an opportunity for space agencies to reach their destination with minimum space travel, fuel wastage.

The rover is powered by a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) which is provided by the U.S Department of Energy.



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