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MAVEN mated to Atlas V in Vertical Integration Facility (VIF)

November 9, 2013
The MAVEN spacecraft has been mated to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 in preparation for a November 18, 2013 liftoff towards the Red Planet. (Courtesy NASA/Kim Shifflet)

The MAVEN spacecraft has been mated to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 in preparation for a November 18, 2013 liftoff towards the Red Planet. (Courtesy NASA/Kim Shifflet)

We’re one small but important step closer to Mars, after the launch team placed MAVEN on the top of the Atlas V rocket that will send the probe to the Red Planet. While most of the Cape Canaveral region was sleeping early Friday morning, a crew drove the MAVEN spacecraft from its processing hangar at Kennedy to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The trip began at 12:33 a.m. and ended at 2:59 a.m. The spacecraft is bolted inside the payload fairing that will protect it at the pad and during the first few minutes of ascent into space. The Atlas V was already stacked and waiting inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 when MAVEN arrived. A crane built into the VIF hoisted MAVEN to the top of the rocket and workers began securing the link. Many more tests await the MAVEN spacecraft as engineers and technicians make sure the spacecraft and rocket are working together.

Launch remains on track for Nov. 18 at 1:28 p.m. EST.

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