Skip to main content

Mars 2020 mission launch date has been pushed back again

NASA has announced another delay to the launch of its Mars-bound Perseverance rover. In a message posted on the rover’s own Twitter account on Tuesday, June 30, the space agency said that due to processing delays in uniting the rover with the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, the first launch effort at Cape Canaveral in Florida would now take place no earlier than July 30.

NASA elaborated in a message on its website, saying that a liquid oxygen sensor line showed unexpected data during a rehearsal for the launch, and so additional time is needed for the team to investigate the issue. During such a rehearsal, the rocket is loaded with propellants while on the launchpad. The team then performs a countdown to confirm that the rocket’s systems are all working properly.

NASA added that it had managed to extend the end of the launch window from August 11 to August 15, and was looking into the possibility of extending it further to enable it to better handle any further delays.

This is the third delay to the much-anticipated Mars 2020 mission in the last three weeks.

The first shifted the launch date from July 17 to July 20 as additional time was needed to carry out repairs on some ground system equipment. Then, last week, a contamination concern prompted the team to push the launch date to July 22.

The ambitious mission will see Perseverance exploring the red planet for signs of ancient life. The six-wheel vehicle, which has been put through its paces ahead of launch, will also collect rock and soil samples that could be brought to Earth for scientific examination.

Joining Perseverance will be the Mars helicopter — called Ingenuity — which is set to become the first-ever aircraft to fly on another planet. Camera-equipped Ingenuity will help NASA look for potentially useful research sites on the Martian surface, and also gather data for mapping routes for future Mars rovers.

Assuming NASA can launch the mission during its targeted window, Perseverance and Ingenuity will reach Mars sometime in February 2021.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
NASA and SpaceX target new Crew-6 launch date after scrubbed effort
Crew-6 astronauts aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

After NASA and SpaceX scrubbed the launch of Crew-6 just a couple of minutes before lift-off early on Monday morning, officials have announced they're now targeting Thursday for the next launch effort.

The team called off Monday’s launch attempt at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida when it suddenly encountered an issue in the ground systems affecting the loading of the ignition fluids for the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) inside the Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule.

Read more
NASA and SpaceX Crew-6 mission ready for launch tonight
From left, NASA astronauts Warren “Woody” Hoburg and Stephen Bowen, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev and UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a dress rehearsal for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission launch on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.

NASA and SpaceX are ready to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station, with preparations underway and launch scheduled for late tonight PT. The Crew-6 mission is set to launch at 1:45 a.m. ET on Monday, February 27 (10:45 p.m. PT on Sunday, February 26) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a SpaceX Cargo Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket.

In a press conference following a readiness review on Saturday, February 25, NASA officials said that the crew and hardware had been given the go-ahead. "We had a good launch readiness review and we're on track for the 27 launch," said Dana Weigel, deputy manager of the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. "This morning I had a chance to talk to the crew. They're doing great. Spirits are high and they are ready to go."

Read more
It’s been 2 years since the Perseverance rover landed on Mars
This image of the floor of Jezero Crater was taken by one of the Navcam imagers aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on Feb. 5, the 698th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Today marks the second anniversary since the rover Perseverance landed on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021. The nail-biting descent and landing process was followed around the world, and was particularly memorable because of the spectacular video taken from both the rover and its descent stage showing the touchdown onto the red planet.

In the two Earth years since Perseverance arrived on Mars, it has collected samples of rock and built a sample depot, deployed the Mars helicopter Ingenuity, created oxygen from the carbon dioxide atmosphere, recorded the sounds of Mars for the first time, trundled along the floor of the Jezero crater and made its way toward the site of an ancient river delta, and taken some stunning images.

Read more