KEY POINTS

  • NASA has delayed the launch of the Mars 2020 mission
  • The launch of the mission has been delayed for a second time
  • NASA still has enough time to proceed with the mission as it is within the launch window

NASA announced that it has once again delayed the launch of the Mars 2020 mission for the Perseverance rover. An issue in one of its facilities caused the delay, according to the agency.

On Wednesday (June 24), NASA released an update regarding its upcoming mission to the Red Planet. The agency noted that it has pushed back the launch date of the rover for a few days.

NASA explained that it postponed the launch to address a few issues related to the mission. One of them is a contamination issue in the agency’s payload facility.

“NASA and United Launch Alliance are now targeting Wednesday, July 22, for launch of the Mars 2020 mission due to a processing delay encountered during encapsulation activities of the spacecraft,” the agency said in a statement. “Additional time was needed to resolve a contamination concern in the ground support lines in NASA’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility.”

NASA’s latest announcement marks the second time that the launch of the Mars 2020 mission experienced delay. The mission was to launch on July 17. However, because of a technical issue related to the mission’s launch vehicle, the event got delayed to July 20.

Despite the multiple delays, NASA is still within the ideal launch window for the mission. During this window, which extends until Aug. 11, Earth and Mars’ orbits align with one another. Since the orbits align, the mission will have a shorter travel time to Mars.

If NASA misses this window, the agency will have to wait for another 26 months until the orbits of the two planets align again.

According to Omar Baez, the launch director for NASA, the agency has enough time to execute the mission within the launch window.

“We’ve got plenty of window or runway ahead of us and we’re not worried about it,” Baez stated, according to Space.com. “We’ll probably run into some not-so-perfect days that could set us back and the team is flexible enough to handle a three-week window.”

Perseverance This illustration depicts NASA's Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. Perseverance will land at the Red Planet's Jezero Crater a little after 3:40 p.m. EST (12:40 p.m. PST) on Feb. 18, 2021. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech