Payload Fairing

The spacecraft rides into the sky inside a protective payload fairing atop the Centaur stage.
Atlas V Launch Vehicle, Payload Fairing
The spacecraft rides into the sky inside a protective payload fairing atop the Centaur stage.

Payload Fairing

The spacecraft rides into the sky inside a protective payload fairing atop the Centaur stage. With the payload fairing on top, the vehicle ready for launch stands approximately 191 feet (58 meters) tall.



In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sections of an Atlas V rocket payload fairing obscure NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) from view as they close in around it.
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Closing the Fairings
In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the fairing acoustic protection (FAP) system lining the inside of the Atlas V payload fairing for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission comes into view as the fairing is lifted into a vertical position.
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Curiosity's Rocket Fairing
Employees at Space Launch Complex 41 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., keep watch as the payload fairing containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is lifted up the side of the Vertical Integration Facility on Nov. 3, 2011.
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Hoisting MSL Onto Its Atlas V
In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a section of the Atlas V payload fairing for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission hangs vertically from the ceiling.
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Payload Fairing Upright

The major elements of the Atlas V-541 rocket that were used for the Mars Science Laboratory mission are: