What is a launch vehicle?
A launch vehicle provides the velocity needed by a spacecraft to escape Earth's gravity and set it on its course for Mars.
Launching from Florida
Why Do You Need A Large Rocket?
Choosing a Launch Vehicle
Selecting the Atlas V
One Big Rocket!
Other Missions Used Similar Rocket
Rocket Only Used Once
Stages of Launch
Stages of Launch
Centaur Upper Stage
||Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
|Height with payload:
||191 feet (58 meters)
|Mass, fully fueled, with spacecraft on top:
||About 1.17 million pounds (531,000 kilograms)
Launch vehicle for this mission
The Mars 2020 mission is designed to launch at a time when Earth and Mars are in positions in their orbits that is advantageous for spacecraft traveling to and landing on Mars. This favorable position of the planets means that it takes less launch energy to get to the Red Planet compared to other times when Earth and Mars are in different positions in their orbits around the sun.
Mars 2020 Launches on an Atlas V 541
When mission planners are choosing among different launch vehicles, they consider how much mass each launch vehicle can lift into space. The integrated Mars 2020 flight system is similar in size and mass to its predecessor, the Mars Science Laboratory mission. The Mars Science Laboratory mission had a total launch mass, including the Atlas V-541 that lifted it away from Earth, of about 531,000 kilograms (1.17 million pounds).
Mars 2020 launches on an Atlas V-541, an intermediate-class launch vehicle. NASA selected this rocket because it has the right liftoff capability for the "heavy weight" requirements for Mars 2020. NASA has also successfully used rockets in the same family for prior missions such as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, New Horizons, Mars Science Laboratory, and Juno.
United Launch Alliance provides Mars 2020’s launch vehicle. NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages the Atlas V launch service for Mars 2020. The two-stage Atlas V-541 launch vehicle lifts off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.