Press Release

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter To Be Launched Aboard Atlas V Rocket August 10

By SpaceRef Editor
August 3, 2005
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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter To Be Launched Aboard Atlas V Rocket August 10

Launch of NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 7:54 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch window extends until 9:39 a.m., a duration of 105 minutes. Liftoff will occur aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas V-401 rocket from Launch Complex 41. Should launch be postponed for 24 hours for any reason, the next launch time will be 7:50 a.m. on Aug. 11.

The MRO, NASA’s next big step in the exploration of the Solar System, will examine Mars in unprecedented detail from low orbit and return more data about that planet than all previous Solar System missions combined.

The spacecraft carries six science instruments to inspect features ranging from the top of Mars’ atmosphere to the planet’s underground layers. Researchers will use it to study the history and distribution of Mars’ water. The orbiter will also support later Mars missions by examining possible landing sites and by providing a high-data-rate communications relay.

Prelaunch Press Conference

A prelaunch press conference will be held at the NASA News Center at KSC on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 9 a.m. EDT. Participating in the briefing will be:

  • Doug McCuistion, Mars Exploration Program Director
    NASA Headquarters, Washington D.C.
  • Chuck Dovale, NASA Launch Director/NASA Launch Manager
    Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
  • Mike Jensen, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer
    International Launch Services, McClean, Va.
  • Jim Graf, MRO Project Manager
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Clay Flinn, U. S. Air Force Atlas V Launch Weather Officer
    45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

MRO Mission Science Briefing

A mission science briefing will immediately follow the prelaunch press conference. Participating will be:

  • Michael Meyer, Mars Exploration Program Chief Scientist
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Richard Zurek, MRO Project Scientist
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Alfred McEwen, Principal Investigator, High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment
    University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Scott Murchie, Principal Investigator
    Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars
    Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
  • Enrico Flamini, Director, Solar System Programs
    Italian Space Agency, Rome, Italy

On launch day, a post-launch press conference will begin at 11:30 a.m. EDT at the KSC News Center. If MRO launches later in the window, the post-launch press conference will begin at launch plus 3 1/2 hours.

Accreditation and Media Access Badges for KSC

Those who need press accreditation and access badges to the Kennedy Space Center to cover the MRO prelaunch press conference and mission science briefing must complete the accreditation process via the Web by going to:

All accreditation for the MRO prelaunch press conference and mission science briefing to be held at the KSC Press Site must be received by the close of business on Monday, Aug. 8. Media may obtain their NASA access badge at the Pass and Identification Building, the badging station located on State Road 405 just east of U.S. 1, south of Titusville. Contact the NASA News Center at 321/867-2468 for further information.

Remote Camera Placement at Complex 41

Tuesday, Aug. 9: Photographers who wish to set up remote cameras at the Atlas V launch pad will be escorted by NASA and Lockheed Martin representatives to Launch Complex 41. Departure will be at 9 a.m. from the KSC News Center.

Atlas V Launch Vehicle Rollout

Tuesday, Aug. 9: There will be an opportunity to observe rollout of the Atlas V rocket from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Complex 41. Media will depart at 10:15 p.m. by government bus from the KSC Press Site. Media wishing to participate in this activity are required to RSVP by calling 321/867-2468 by the close of business Monday, August 8.

Launch Day Press Site Access and KSC News Center Hours

Wednesday, Aug. 10: Media will cover the MRO launch from the KSC Press Site. Access will be through Gate 2 on SR 3 or Gate 3 on SR 405, east of the KSC Visitor Complex. Non-accredited media must pick up the media badges before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9. The NASA News Center at KSC will open on launch day from 4:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage

A prelaunch webcast is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9. For more information, go to the NASA Direct Web site at:


NASA Television launch coverage will be webcast at:

Live information updates will be available through Kennedy Space Center’s Virtual Launch Control Center at:

Additional mission information:

NASA Television Coverage

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, NASA Television will carry live the MRO prelaunch press conference and mission science briefing beginning at 9 a.m. EDT. On Wednesday, Aug. 10, NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 5:30 a.m. EDT and conclude approximately one hour after launch, once data from the Deep Space Network confirms the spacecraft’s solar arrays have successfully deployed.

In the continental United States, NASA Television is on AMC-6, Transponder 17C located at 72 degrees West longitude (4040.0 MHz video, 6.8 MHz audio, MPEG-2 digital signal). In Alaska and Hawaii, all MRO events will be on AMC-7 Transponder 18 located at 137 degrees West longitude, (4060 MHz video, 6.8 MHz).

Audio only of the prelaunch press conference and the launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits which may be accessed by dialing 321/867-1220…1240…1260…7135. On launch day, “Mission Audio,” the launch conductor’s countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321/867-7135 starting at 5 a.m. Launch will also be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz or UHF radio frequency 442.6 MHz heard within Brevard County.

Recorded status reports on the launch of the MRO and updates to the Media Advisory will be provided on the KSC news media codaphone starting Monday, Aug. 8. The telephone number is 321/867-2525.

The launch management of the MRO is the responsibility of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center Launch Services Program. International Launch Services of McClean, Va., is the launch service provider for the Atlas V. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. MRO Project Management is by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

SpaceRef staff editor.