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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

MAVEN Spacecraft Successfully Launches to Mars

At 1:28 p.m. EST, the MAVEN spacecraft began its 10-month journey to Mars orbit, launching aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Atlas V and the spacecraft have performed flawlessly in the early hours after launch. MAVEN’s “gull wing” solar arrays have deployed, sending power to the instruments onboard, and mission ground support personnel have confirmed the receipt of telemetry, indicating that communications with the spacecraft are proceeding as expected.
As of Nov. 25th, MAVEN operations are going smoothly with all spacecraft systems healthy. MAVEN uses 24-hour Deep Space Network communications coverage and all communication events have been nominal. The mission is now in its early cruise mission phase and the spacecraft is approximately 1.39 million miles (2.24 million kilometers) from Earth. MAVEN’s current Sun-centered speed is 73,497 mph. The next big milestone for the team is a planned trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) on Dec. 3, followed by the power up of the eight science instruments between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10.

“Thus far the MAVEN spacecraft has flown and operated as we had all hoped and planned,” said David F. Mitchell, MAVEN project manager. “There are some big events coming up in the days ahead but I couldn’t be more pleased with how the journey has started.”

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