Second Mars Rover Liftoff Put Off a Day

From a Times Staff Writer

The launch of the second of two NASA Mars rovers was postponed until today after it missed two launch windows late Saturday.

The first miss occurred when a fishing boat entered restricted waters near the launch site and winds created concerns that if an accident were to occur during launch, toxic fumes could blow into populated areas.

The boat was moved, the winds changed and the launch time was moved back about 40 minutes. That launch was scrubbed when high-altitude winds moved over the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The spacecraft remained atop the Delta II Heavy rocket that was to ferry it into space, and the launch was rescheduled for around midnight tonight.


The window to launch to Mars closes on July 15. Engineers do not want to miss this opportunity because Mars is as close to Earth as it has been in more than 60,000 years, and a bigger spacecraft can be sent with less fuel.

Once launched, the rover is expected to join its twin on the Martian surface in January. The first rover was launched June 10.