NASA Selects ULA for Mars Mission

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Image Source: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Image Source: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Centennial, Colorado. December 19, 2013. NASA’s Launch Services Program has selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) proven Atlas V vehicle to launch the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will place a geophysical lander on the surface of Mars.

“We could not be more honored that NASA has selected ULA to launch the InSight mission, which will be landing on the surface of Mars,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president of Atlas and Delta Programs. “This mission will be the eighth mission to Mars that ULA vehicles have launched since 2001, including Mars Science Lab and most recently MAVEN.”

The InSight mission is scheduled to launch in March 2016 from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This mission will launch aboard an Atlas V 401 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), with a four-meter diameter payload fairing.

“With 42 successful missions spanning more than a decade of operational service, the commercially developed Atlas V has the performance capability and the reliability required for this high-value NASA mission,” said Sponnick.

ULA’s Atlas V is the only launch vehicle certified by NASA to fly the nation’s largest and most complex space exploration missions.

InSight is scheduled to land on Mars in September 2016 to begin a two-year science mission. InSight will help us understand the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system, including Earth, more than 4 billion years ago. The mission will investigate the interior structure and processes of Mars to understand better the evolution of rocky planets such as Earth. InSight will perform this science using two instrument packages.

NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Atlas V launch services. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, provides management for the InSight mission.

ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Alabama and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida and Vandenberg AFB, California.

Source: NASA/United Launch Alliance