Oft-delayed Mars rover launch critical for Florida’s $20B aerospace industry – The Apopka Voice

Oft-delayed Mars rover launch critical for Florida’s $20B aerospace industry – The Apopka Voice

NASA’s new Mars rover “Perseverance” is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Thursday, July 30

NASA’s new Mars rover “Perseverance” is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Thursday atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and land on Mars next February to drill for soil samples that will be collected by another Florida-launched spacecraft in 2026.

The launch, which has already been scrubbed three times, is considered critical for an array of missions intertwined with NASA’s goal to send astronauts to the moon by 2024 and, eventually, to Mars.

NASA has until Aug. 11 to launch “Perseverance” to augment its AeroSCuriosity rover, which has been exploring Mars’ Gale Crater since 2011. If it can’t do so by then, the next launch window won’t unfold until 2022.

The launch is also critical for Florida’s $20 billion aerospace industry, where 17,144 commercial space companies employ more than 130,000 residents in high-tech, high-wage jobs.

While “Perseverance” was built in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, much of the other launch assembly was fabricated in Florida, where aerospace pioneers such as the Aerospace Industry Association, Blue Origin, Boeing, SpaceX and ULA have established manufacturing and operating sites.

While attending May’s launch of NASA astronauts aboard a privately owned spaceship built by SpaceX in Florida – the first launch of Americans into space from U.S. soil in a decade and the first-ever aboard a privately-owned spaceship – Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis said the Sunshine State will play a pivotal role in man’s immediate quest to go to Mars and long-range aspirations to explore outer space.

“The next stop is to the moon again, and then the stop after that is Mars,” he said.

Florida’s commercial aerospace tradition makes it the best location for the headquarters of the newly created military branch, the United States Space Command, DeSantis said.

Florida’s two U.S. senators,
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