The launch of NASA’s next Mars rover has been delayed to no earlier than July 22 due to a contamination issue with ground support equipment, the space agency said on June 24.
NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance was scheduled to launch toward the Red Planet on July 20 from a pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. But a problem cropped up as engineers worked to encapsulate the rover in the nosecone of its Atlas V rocket, which was built by United Launch Alliance. “NASA and United Launch Alliance are now targeting Wednesday, July 22, for launch of the Mars 2020 mission due to a processing delay encountered during encapsulation activities of the spacecraft,” NASA officials said in an update. “Additional time was needed to resolve a contamination concern in the ground support lines in NASA’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF).”
The contamination issue marks the second delay in as many weeks for the Mars rover Perseverance. The mission was originally scheduled to launch July 17, but slipped three days to July 20 due to a ground system equipment issue that involved a faulty crane.
The Perseverance rover and its Atlas V rocket are in good health, according to NASA, and ULA successfully performed a “wet-dress rehearsal” (a test that included fuelling the Atlas V rocket) on Monday (June 22). But the new delay cuts deeper into a limited window in which to launch the mission.