Lockheed to rocket science lab to Mars

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has selected Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services to deliver an Atlas V rocket for the Mars Science Laboratory mission in autumn 2009. It will carry a large six-wheeled rover to explore the red planet over two years, examining sites to identify where the building blocks for life may exist.

The total Mars Science Laboratory launch service price is $194.7 million. The cost includes NASA launch services and mission integration requirements. This is a firm-fixed price contract. The launch services for Mars Science Laboratory are being acquired under the existing NASA Launch Services multiple award procedures.

Principal work for the Atlas V Centaur propellant tank will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s San Diego facility, while the primary work location for the Atlas V booster propellant tank’s production will be done at Lockheed’s Colorado works.

The Mars Science Laboratory will launch from Complex 41 on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the mission.