Media Invited to Briefing and Photo Opportunity for NASA's Next Mission to Mars - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter - Built at Lockheed Martin Space Systems
Denver, CO, 05-JAN-05 -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Lockheed Martin mark another significant milestone in the Mars space exploration program. A team of engineers and technicians from Lockheed Martin Space Systems are completing system acoustic tests Jan. 6 on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) being built near Denver, CO, for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The MRO team is now entering the final four months of system and environmental tests before shipping the spacecraft to Florida in April for launch this summer. MRO is NASA’s next mission to Mars. It will be launched in August aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle, also being built by Lockheed Martin at its facilities near Denver.
The MRO spacecraft, which will be the largest spacecraft to orbit Mars weighing 4,796 lbs (2,180 kg) at liftoff, has been assembled with five of the six primary science instruments onboard, both solar arrays and the High Gain Antenna. The spacecraft is undergoing system and environmental testing at Lockheed Martin to simulate conditions that the spacecraft will experience during launch and in space.
MEDIA ARE INVITED
A photo opportunity for media will be held 9 a.m. MT, Friday, Jan. 7, in the clean room with the MRO spacecraft at Lockheed Martin’s Waterton Facility near Denver. Members of the MRO team will be available for interviews in the clean room. Immediately following, media are invited to see the Atlas V AV-007 launch vehicle in Lockheed Martin’s Launch Vehicle Final Assembly Building, where final preparations and testing of the Atlas V are underway for the MRO mission. Members of the Atlas V team will be available for interviews. News media should contact Joan Underwood at 303-971-7398 (office) or 800-745-8198 (pager) for access and escort to the event, departing from the Waterton Facility main gate entrance Jan 7 at 9 a.m. MT.
A more detailed update about MRO and its progress will be provided to media later that morning at 11:30 a.m. MT. Media may dial in to an audio line for the update and questions at 800-837-5479 (U.S. toll free) and 212-676-4905 (international). The briefing will begin promptly at 11:30 a.m. Panelists will include Jim Graf, MRO Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); Dr. Rich Zurek, MRO Project Scientist at JPL; and Kevin McNeill, MRO Program Manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered near Denver, Colo., is one of the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems Company designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense. Chief products include space launch systems, defense systems, interplanetary and science spacecraft, spacecraft for commercial and government customers, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.