NASA’s Mars 2020 meanderer lands at Florida launch site for July liftoff

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The Mars 2020 meanderer, which is planned to launch to the Red Planet in July, landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday (Feb. 12), after finishing a 2,300-mile (3,700 kilometers) journey from the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where it was manufactured.

“Our rover has left the only home it has ever known,” John McNamee, NASA’s Mars 2020 project manager, said in a statement. “The 2020 family here at JPL is a little sad to see it go, but we’re even more proud knowing that the next time our rover takes to the skies, it will be headed to Mars.”

Two U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo planes delivered the meanderer to Kennedy Space Center, alongside the spacecraft’s cruise stage, descent stage, and Mars Helicopter, a drone that will hitch a ride to the Red Planet on the Mars 2020 wanderer.

It will experience final launch arrangements there for the next few months before heading over to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41, where it will launch on an Atlas V rocket on July 17.

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