NASA’s Perseverance rover has one final review to pass before launch to Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover is almost certified as ready for its trip to Mars, launching on Thursday, July 30. This week, the rover passed its Flight Readiness Review. The next hurdle for the project is the final Launch Readiness Review which will take place on Monday, July 27.

The Launch Readiness Review will check whether all of the hardware is ready for the launch itself, giving final approval for the launch to go ahead. After this review concludes, NASA will hold a conference to announce its results.

This launch represents the best opportunity yet to discover evidence of ancient life on Mars and is the culmination of years of work including several difficult months during the pandemic.

The payload fairing, or nose cone, containing NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is maneuvered into place atop the Atlas V rocket that will hurl it toward Mars.
The payload fairing, or nose cone, containing NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is maneuvered into place atop the Atlas V rocket that will hurl it toward Mars. The image was taken on July 7, 2020, inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. NASA/KSC

To prepare the rover for its launch, it was previously stacked with the Ingenuity helicopter, in a process during which the helicopter was placed on top of the rover and both vehicles were tucked inside a shell along with a parachute to help slow their descent during the Mars landing. The vehicles will land with the assistance of a descent stage, using a system called skycrane which was first used for landing Curiosity, Perseverance’s sister rover.

The rover, helicopter, and decent stage were then transported across the country from California to Florida, where they were enclosed within the nose cone or fairing of the Atlas V rocket which will be used for the launch. With all these steps complete, the final review will certify that everything is safe and ready for launch.

“We’re pleased to be passing another milestone with the completion of the Flight Readiness Review,” Matt Wallace, deputy project manager for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement this week. “But we’ll keep our heads down through the final prelaunch activities and the opening of the launch window next week, until we’re certain this spacecraft is safely on its way. Mars is a tough customer, and we don’t take anything for granted.”

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