Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology JPL HOME EARTH SOLAR SYSTEM STARS & GALAXIES SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY BRING THE UNIVERSE TO YOU JPL Email News RSS Mobile Video
JPL Banner
Mars Science Laboratory

Assembly & Testing at Kennedy Space Center

Booster Rocket Will Give Atlas V a Boost

Although arrival in Florida was a significant milestone for the mission, there was still considerable work to be done to prepare Curiosity for launch. A team of engineers and technicians spent countless hours in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility cleanroom at Kennedy Space Center reassembling the spacecraft and conducting even more tests.

While Curiosity and its spacecraft components were getting readied for launch, United Launch Alliance personnel at Kennedy Space Center worked to get the Atlas V-541 rocket, chosen to launch Curiosity, ready for takeoff.

Connecting Curiosity's Heat Shield and Back Shell

At Kennedy, the "backshell powered descent vehicle" containing Curiosity was placed inside the backshell and closed off with the spacecraft's heat shield. The heat shield and the spacecraft's backshell formed an aeroshell that encapsulated and protected the rover from the intense heat it experienced during the final leg of the trip to Mars and the friction-filled descent through the Martian atmosphere.