NASA has delayed the launch of its newest Mars rover yet again — to the conclusion of July at the first — now for a rocket issue.
If the Perseverance rover isn’t returning by mid-August, it will have to wait until 2022 when Earth and Mars are back in proper alignment, costing NASA close to $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,774 crores) for the delay alone.
Managers are now actually targeting no earlier than July 30 for a liftoff from Cape Canaveral, eating up half the monthlong launch window. The very good news is that NASA is wanting to eke out more hours in this summer’s launch opportunity, now lasting until at least August 15. The chance to fly to Mars pops up only every 26 months.
It is NASA’s most ambitious Mars mission yet, totaling around $3 billion (roughly Rs. 22,647 crores). Besides seeking signs of past microscopic Martian life, Perseverance will gather rocks and soil for eventual get back to Earth.
Rocket maker United Launch Alliance needs extra time to deal with a liquid oxygen sensor line that showed questionable readings during a recent practice countdown, officials said Tuesday. Previous technical concerns — including crane trouble at the pad — bumped the launch from the original July 17 to the 20th and then to July 22.
Perseverance will still attempt a touchdown next February in an ancient river delta at Mars, regardless of when it launches.
The United Arab Emirates and China, meanwhile, still are pressing ahead with launches this month or next of Mars spacecraft. Russia and the European Space Agency had to bow out, delaying their Mars rover until 2022 because of delayed spacecraft testing and travel limitations due to the coronavirus pandemic.