Photos: Atlas 5 Rocket Catapults Into Space With Mars Rover

 In Air, Space, Forces & Capabilities, Oceans

Carrying a $2.7 bil­lion NASA mis­sion to Mars, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket took off July 30 from Cape Canaveral and fired into a summer sky pow­ered by four pow­er­ful solid rocket boost­ers and a kerosene-burn­ing main engine.

The Atlas 5 blast­ed off from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) July 30 and rock­et­ed away from the Florida space­port with some 2.3 mil­lion pounds of thrust.

The 197-foot-tall (60-meter) rocket 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. The first stage’s kerosene-fed RD-180 fired for nearly four-and-a-half min­utes drop­ping away, allow­ing the rocket’s Centaur upper stage to accel­er­ate NASA’s Perseverance rover on an escape tra­jec­to­ry toward Mars.

The robot­ic Perseverance rover is the cen­ter­piece of NASA’s Mars 2020 mis­sion designed to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.

The launch July 30 marked the 85th flight of an Atlas 5 rocket since August 2002, and the fourth Atlas 5 launch of the year.

Read our full story for details on the mis­sion.

Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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