Douglas Isbell
Headquarters, Washington, DC August 14, 1996
(Phone: 202/358-1753)

George Diller
Kennedy Space Center, FL
(Phone: 407/867-2468)

Diane Ainsworth
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
(Phone: 818/354-5011)

RELEASE: 96-167

The Mars Global Surveyor and the Mars Pathfinder, a pair of NASA spacecraft scheduled to be launched toward the red planet on McDonnell Douglas Delta II rockets late this year, have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), FL, to begin their preparations for launch.

The Mars Global Surveyor will be placed into orbit around the planet. It carries a set of six science instruments designed to study the planet's surface, atmosphere, and gravitational and magnetic fields. The Mars Pathfinder will be deployed through the Martian atmosphere to land on the planet's surface, where it will deploy a small instrumented rover to investigate the terrain surrounding the spacecraft. Together, the Mars Pathfinder and rover will investigate the geology and elemental composition of the Martian rocks and soil, as well as the Martian atmosphere and surface weather.

"The arrival of the two Mars spacecraft at the launch site is a wonderful milestone of which the whole Mars missions team can be very proud," said Dr. Jurgen Rahe, director of Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. "It reminds us just how close we are to returning important new scientific knowledge about the red planet back to Earth."

Mars Global Surveyor, weighing 2,315 pounds and built by Lockheed Martin, arrived at Cape Canaveral, FL, from Denver, CO. aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo plane this morning at 3:25 a.m. EDT. It was off-loaded and taken to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) located in the KSC Industrial Area to begin launch preparations.

The Mars Pathfinder, built for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, arrived at the Spacecraft Assembly and Encapsulation Facility (SAEF-2) at KSC at 3 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon having traveled across the United States in a special van. Presently three of four separate components have arrived at KSC: the cruise stage, the aeroshell and the lander. The fourth element, the small rover known as Sojourner, is scheduled to arrive on Aug. 23 and will be shipped from California by air.

During the time Mars Global Surveyor will be at the PHSF, it will undergo final instrument functional tests and electrical system testing, its batteries and thermal insulation will be installed, the spacecraft will be fueled with its control propellants, and it will be mated to its solid propellant upper stage, which is the Delta third stage booster.

Mars Global Surveyor is scheduled to be transported from the PHSF to Launch Complex 17 on Oct. 23 to be hoisted atop a Delta. After integrated testing is complete, a nine-and-a- half foot diameter nose fairing will be placed around the spacecraft.

Launch of Mars Global Surveyor is scheduled for Nov. 6 at 12:11 p.m. EST at the beginning of a 20-day launch period which ends on Nov. 25. The spacecraft will arrive at the planet in September 1997 to begin a mission which is planned to last at least one Martian year, or 687 Earth days.

The integration of the four Mars Pathfinder elements will begin with installation of the rover on one of the four petals of the lander. After the petals are closed, the aeroshell which surrounds and protects the lander will be installed and the parachutes will be attached. The assembled entry vehicle will then be mated to the cruise stage that will carry the spacecraft on its interplanetary trajectory. Finally, before going to the launch pad, the completed Mars Pathfinder will be mated to the upper stage booster. The entire integration process will take approximately three months.

The Mars Pathfinder/Delta third stage combination will then be transported to Pad 17-B for erection atop the Delta on Nov. 21 After integrated testing, a fairing will be placed around the spacecraft. Launch is scheduled to occur on Dec. 2 at 2:09 a.m. EST at the beginning of a 24-day launch period that ends on Dec. 25. Landing on Mars is planned to occur on July 4, 1997. Once on the planet's surface, the mission is planned to last approximately one month.