Emily LakdawallaAug 21, 2013

Photo gallery: MAVEN being prepped for launch

I often say that I don't pay much attention to space missions until they get shipped to their launch site. Well, it's time for me to sit up and pay attention to MAVEN. The Mars orbiter, which is scheduled to launch in November, arrived in Florida three weeks ago. The Kennedy Space Center does a terrific job of documenting every step of pre-launch preparations in photos through their website, the Kennedy Media Archive. Here are some great photos of MAVEN's arrival and processing.

First: Megalodon! No, wait, it's just a C-17 aircraft.

MAVEN arrives at Kennedy, August 2, 2013
MAVEN arrives at Kennedy, August 2, 2013 Technicians at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida prepare to offload the MAVEN spacecraft from a C-17 aircraft. NASA / Tim Jacobs

I wonder if the technicians at Kennedy feel like they're opening a Christmas present when they remove the shipping crates from spacecraft.

Unboxing MAVEN, August 3, 2013 (1)
Unboxing MAVEN, August 3, 2013 (1) Engineers use a sling to remove a shipping container from around the MAVEN spacecraft inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA / Tim Jacobs

Like a matroyshka doll...

Unboxing MAVEN, August 3, 2013 (2)
Unboxing MAVEN, August 3, 2013 (2) A crane lifts shipping material from around the MAVEN spacecraft inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA / Tim Jacobs

Carefully...

Preparing MAVEN for assembly, August 3, 2013
Preparing MAVEN for assembly, August 3, 2013 A crane lifts the MAVEN spacecraft onto a processing stand inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA / Tim Jacobs

 That processing stand that they attached it to can be pivoted 90 degrees, putting the top face in reach to attach the dish antenna:

Attaching MAVEN's high-gain antenna, August 9, 2013
Attaching MAVEN's high-gain antenna, August 9, 2013 Technicians install the parabolic high gain antenna onto the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN spacecraft, in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. NASA / Jim Grossmann

Look on the back of that antenna and you can see the fancy shaped thermal blanketing they had to cover it with. Here's somebody taping that together. Yes, taping it.

Wrapping MAVEN for space, August 9, 2013
Wrapping MAVEN for space, August 9, 2013 Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, technicians apply tape to the thermal blanket for the MAVEN spacecraft's parabolic high gain antenna. NASA / Jim Grossmann

The most recent photos, added to the gallery today, show them test-deploying the solar panels and inspecting their surfaces.

Test-deploying MAVEN's solar panels, August 20, 2013
Test-deploying MAVEN's solar panels, August 20, 2013 Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians deploy the solar arrays for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN spacecraft. NASA / Jim Grossmann

I wish I knew the name of the "technician" in this photo, but they never publish names or titles with the photos.

Inspecting MAVEN's solar panels, August 20, 2013
Inspecting MAVEN's solar panels, August 20, 2013 Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, a technician inspects one of the solar arrays for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN spacecraft. NASA / Jim Grossmann

That's it so far. Keep watching the MAVEN gallery at the Kennedy Media Archive for more updates. I learned about the addition of those solar panel photos today via the NASA Launch Services Program Twitter feed.

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