Cape Canaveral, Florida. November 8, 2013. The MAVEN spacecraft inside its protective fairing has been positioned atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster this morning following an early morning trip from its processing hangar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the launch pad at the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The move began at 12:33 a.m. with a specialized payload transporter leaving the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility and traveling with a convoy to Space Launch Complex 41 where a stacked United Launch Alliance Atlas V was waiting for its payload. MAVEN arrived at the pad at 2:59 a.m. Crews began hoisting MAVEN into the Vertical Integration Facility at 6:43 a.m. and the spacecraft was soft-mated to the top of the rocket at 7:45 a.m.
The move and hoisting operations mark another major milestone for the launch team as everything proceeds on schedule to launch Nov. 18 at 1:28 p.m. EST to begin MAVEN’s mission to study the Martian upper atmosphere.
MAVEN will be powered up for a health check tomorrow. Then on Monday, controllers will run the Integrated Systems Test to assure that MAVEN and the Atlas V are working together. It is also an electrical test of the Atlas V.