NASA’s Perseverance rover lifts off Thursday from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Persevering through a global pandemic, a last-minute earthquake, and the trials of a rocket launch, NASA’s next Mars rover — named Perseverance — took off from Cape Canaveral Thursday on a nearly seven-month journey to the red planet with sophisticated science instruments, technology to collect samples for to Earth, and the first interplanetary helicopter that could produce a “Wright Brothers moment” on another world.
The $2.7 billion Mars 2020 billion mission is poised to achieve numerous firsts, but first it had to leave Earth on top of a powerful rocket to kick off a nearly 500-million-kilometre voyage through the Solar System.
An Atlas 5 rocket built by United Launch Alliance — a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin — gave the Perseverance rover a perfect ride into space Thursday after lifting off from Cape Canaveral at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT).
Four solid rocket motors and a Russian-made RD-180 main engine gave the Atlas 5 and the Perseverance rover their initial boost into space. An RL10 engine on the Centaur upper stage, fueled by an ...