Video courtesy of AmericaSpace / Wired4Space
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — United Launch Alliance’s ULA Mariner, a ship owned by Foss Marine, delivered the Atlas V 401 rocket which will be used to power NASA’s Mars Atmosphere Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission on its way to Mars. Launch is currently scheduled to take place on Nov. 18 of this year. The ULA Mariner unloaded its precious cargo just before 10 a.m. EDT Monday, Aug. 26. AmericaSpace attended this event and watched as the booster’s first stage and Centaur Upper Stage were offloaded from the vessel.
While this event might seem mundane to those outside the space industry, it actually is not one which is attended. Indeed, even veterans have only witnessed a handful of boosters being offloaded from the ULA Mariner.
“I think I might have been here and seen this five or six times,” said SpaceFlight Now’s Justin Ray.
NASA and ULA had officials on hand to detail what was taking place on this day, the importance of it, and what it means in terms of NASA’s MAVEN mission.
“The last time I had the opportunity to see the Atlas arrive was for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Unfortunately, I was out of town and was unable to see it. So this makes the first time I’ve actually witnessed this taking place,” said NASA’s Launch Director for the space agency’s Launch Services Program.
MAVEN is set to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida this November. MAVEN will use the 401 configuration of the Atlas V. This version of the venerable booster has a four-meter fairing, with no solid rocket boosters and a single engine in the Centaur Upper Stage.