Mars Science Laboratory Launch

    Spacecraft: Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity Rover
    Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V
    Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
    Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 41
    Launch Date: Nov. 26, 2011 Launch Time: 10:02 a.m. EST

    Atlas V rocket with MSL spacecraft lifts off on time from Space Launch Complex-41Image above: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying NASA's Mars Science Lab (MSL) spacecraft. Liftoff came right on time on the first opportunity at 10:02 a.m. EST, Nov. 26, 2011. Image credit: NASA/George Roberts
    › Larger Image

    Mars Science Laboratory En Route to Mars
    NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft -- which includes the newest Red Planet rover, the car-sized Curiosity -- began its mission with an on-time launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Nov. 26, 2011 at 10:02 a.m. EST.

    The Atlas V lifted off with MSL on the first opportunity, rising from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida following a smooth countdown throughout the morning. Although clouds occasionally drifted through the launch area during fueling operations, conditions were favorable at launch time, as forecasters had predicted.

    MSL separated from the Centaur upper stage about 44 minutes into the mission and sent a signal to officials on the ground six minutes later. The spacecraft is in excellent health as it begins its journey to Mars.

    Additional Resources:
    › MSL/Atlas V Summary (343 Kb PDF)

    MSL Prelaunch Webcast: Curiosity Poised to Begin Ambitious Exploration
    The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity is poised to liftoff on an Atlas V rocket bound for the red planet on an exploration mission unprecedented in goals and machinery. The wheeled robot is carrying suite of 10 instruments and even a laser to research the Martian past.


Launch Control Center


Mission Extras

  • The Mars Science Laboratory mission logo is applied to the exterior of the payload fairing

    Curiosity Image Gallery

    › View Gallery
  • Launch pad

    Test Your Knowledge

    Find out if you've got the right stuff to plot the course for future space missions.

    › Take the Quiz
  • Rocket Science 101

    Rocket Science 101

    Assemble a Delta II, Delta IV, Atlas V or Pegasus rocket from main engine to payload fairing!

    › Build a Rocket