NASA and contractor managers for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) launch held their Flight Readiness Review meeting at NASA's Kennedy Space Center this morning. After an evaluation of the MSL spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, managers gave a "go" to continue proceeding toward a liftoff at 10:25 a.m. EST next Friday, Nov. 25. Managers will meet again Nov. 22 for the Launch Readiness Review.
The spacecraft -- with its rover, Curiosity -- is sealed inside the protective payload fairing atop the Atlas V rocket, which stands inside the Vertical Integration Facility at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41. Closeouts of the spacecraft and the Atlas V fairing are planned for Saturday, with a countdown dress rehearsal on Sunday's schedule.
Curiosity has 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars has had environments favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release the gasses so that its spectrometer can analyze and send the data back to Earth.