Lockheed Ships ‘InSight’ Mars Spacecraft for March 2016 Launch; Stu Spath Comments

Lockheed Martin BlueLockheed Martin has delivered a company-built Mars lander to a launch site in California for NASA‘s upcoming mission to study the red planet’s deep interior.

A U.S. military aircraft transported InSight on Wednesday from Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where the space vehicle will undergo final integration and tests, Lockheed said Thursday.

NASA is scheduled to launch the spacecraft aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket in March.

Stu Spath, InSight program manager at Lockheed, said the company derived the 1,380-pound spacecraft from NASA’s Phoenix lander that descended on the red planet in 2008.

Engineers will integrate a seismometer instrument built by the French space agency into InSight and conduct propellant loading, spin balance testing and system-level checkout activities before the mission.

The German Aerospace Center has also built a scientific tool for the two-year Mars exploration project.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the initiative under the Discovery Program.

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