A very happy Curiosity team at NASA JPL in Pasadena very late on Sunday evening.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.
It’s only two days after Christmas, but the holiday cheer that usually extends through New Year’s Day seems to have worn off for some pundits. Some are looking back in horror, others ahead with trepidation…
Lunar scientist Paul Spudis says good riddance to the year in space in Annus Horribilis: Space in 2011. So, what went wrong? The space shuttle program ended, the commercial crew effort appears doomed, NASA’s new mission statement lacks any actual missions, the Space Launch System is a bloated mess, the James Webb telescope is sucking the life out of the science budget, and John Marburger passed away.
Gee, that does sound bad. Now, I’m seriously depressed…and I was pretty happy until just now.
NASA PR — It’s launch week for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), scheduled for liftoff Nov. 26 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The one hour and 43 minute launch window opens at 10:02 a.m. EST. The MSL spacecraft, including the rover Curiosity, is sealed within the protective payload fairing atop the rocket, which is inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Launch day weather is predicted to be favorable, with only a 30 percent chance of conditions prohibiting liftoff.
PopSci singled out Dragon for the Grand Award in the Aviation & Space category. The magazine calls the vehicle “the future of American spaceflight,” a ship that will eventually fly cargo and crews to the International Space Station, the moon and Mars.
NASA MISSION UPDATE
Twelve-year-old Clara Ma flew from Kansas to JPL to meet and sign the next rover that will zoom millions of miles to Mars. The trip is Clara’s prize for winning an essay contest in which she named the rover “Curiosity.”