October 1, 2020

Video: Rocketcams show Mars-bound rover’s ride into space


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Video credit: United Launch Alliance

Cameras mounted on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket show the fiery ride into space for NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover after taking off from Florida’s Space Coast.

The Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) on July 30, kicking off a nearly hour-long ascent that culminated with deployment of the Mars 2020 spacecraft on a trajectory departing Earth and heading into the solar system.

The rocket accelerated the Mars 2020 spacecraft, containing the Perseverance rover, to a velocity of nearly 25,000 mph, or 40,000 kilometers per hour, to begin the probe’s six-and-a-half month cruise to the Red Planet. The Perseverance rover is due to land on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, to begin a mission collecting samples for eventual return to Earth, studying Martian geology and weather, and searching for signs of ancient life.

Read our full story for details on the mission.

The video above begins with a view from a downward-facing camera on the Atlas 5’s first stage, showing the 197-foot-tall (60-meter) rocket climbing away from pad 41 with some 2.3 million pounds of thrust from its kerosene-fueled RD-180 main engine and four strap-on solid rocket boosters.

The Atlas 5 arced over the Atlantic Ocean to the east from Cape Canaveral, surpassed the speed of sound in 35 seconds, and shed its four strap-on solid rocket boosters just before the two-minute mark of the flight. Moments later, the Atlas 5 jettisoned its aerodynamic nose cone, along with a structure designed to absorb loads during the first few minutes of the launch.

The first stage’s kerosene-fed RD-180 fired for nearly four-and-a-half minutes before dropping away, allowing the rocket’s Centaur upper stage to accelerate NASA’s Perseverance rover on an escape trajectory toward Mars.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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