Release Number: 011113
11/18/2013 - by 45th Space Wing Public Affairs -- CAPE
CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space
Wing provided flawless Eastern Range support for NASA's successful
launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission
aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41
here at 1:28 p.m. Nov. 18.
The rocket flew in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter
fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper
Airmen, Air Force civilians and contractors from throughout the 45th
Space Wing provided vital support, including weather forecasts, launch
and range operations, security, safety, medical and public affairs. The
wing also provided its vast network of radar, telemetry, optical and
communications instrumentation to facilitate a safe launch on the
MAVEN is the second mission under NASA's Mars Scout Program. It will
take critical measurements of the Martian upper atmosphere to help
scientists understand climate change over the Red Planet's history.
MAVEN is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the
Martian upper atmosphere.
It will orbit the planet in an elliptical orbit that allows it to pass
through and sample the entire upper atmosphere on every orbit. The
spacecraft will investigate how the loss of Mars' atmosphere to space
determined the history of water on the surface.
According to NASA, MAVEN, weighing 5,410 pounds, will take 10 months to
reach Mars' atmosphere and is expected to begin orbiting the planet on
Sept. 22, 2014. During the mission, MAVEN will examine all of Mars'
latitudes and will perform five deep dip maneuvers, descending to an
altitude of 78 miles above Mars' surface. This will mark the lower
boundary of the planet's upper atmosphere.
"The 45th Space Wing is proud to participate with NASA and our mission
partners for this exciting, historic launch," said Col. Robert Pavelko,
45th Space Wing vice commander, who served as the Launch Decision
Authority for the mission. "We at the 45th Space Wing continue to assure
access to space, and this mission is a yet another testament to all the
hard work and teamwork that culminated in a safe, successful launch.
Congratulations to all on a job well done," he said.