Employees at Space Launch Complex 41 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., keep watch as the payload fairing containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is lifted up the side of the Vertical Integration Facility on Nov. 3, 2011. The fairing, which protects the payload during launch, was subsquently attached to the Atlas V rocket already stacked inside the facility.
The spacecraft was prepared for launch in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Its components include a car-sized rover, Curiosity, which has 10 science instruments designed to search for evidence about whether Mars has had environments favorable to microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life.
Launch of the Mars Science Laboratory aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is planned for Nov. 25 from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Launch management is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Atlas V launch service is provided by United Launch Alliance, Denver, Colo.