Saturday, November 26, 2011

Flawless Launch for MSL

Atlas V provided a flawless launch for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) this morning at 10:02 am EST from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The two-stage Atlas V-541 launch vehicle lifted off right on time with the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The vehicle was provided by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. The thee numbers in the 541 designation signify a payload fairing, or nose cone, that is approximately 5 meters (16.4 feet) in diameter; four solid-rocket boosters fastened alongside the central common core booster; and a one-engine Centaur upper stage.

After a little more than 4 minutes of flight the Centaur second stage took over, burning for abot 7 minutes, placing the spacecraft in orbit. The second Centaur burn, continuing for nearly 8 minutes and lofted the spacecraft out of Earth orbit and on its way toward Mars.

Spectacular video from the Centaur upper stage showed the separation of  MSL now on it's way to Mars.