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Mars Science Laboratory

Pre-Launch Activities

An engineer dressed in white clean room coveralls (called a "bunny suit") works on the rover upside-down in its "backshell."

The pre-launch period covers everything from initial mission design to all stages of building and testing the rover, its spacecraft and its launch vehicle prior to liftoff from Earth. It requires meticulous attention to detail and years of exertion to get everything right for a successful, on-time launch. While engineers work on building and testing, scientists at universities and research institutions throughout the United States and the world are planning their instrument observations and deciding how to make the best use of the rover's powerful capabilities.

In the pre-launch phase, Mars Science Laboratory came together from a collection of individual instruments and parts to an incredibly capable and sophisticated rover and spacecraft, thanks to countless and demanding hours of effort from a workforce of thousands of people. From concept to creation, this rough and tough rover ultimately made its way from the clean room where it was built at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to its final Earth-bound destination, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Pre-launch activities include: