Lockheed Martin transports Mars Rover aeroshell to Kennedy Space Center

Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has announced the delivery of the Mars Rover protective aeroshell to NASA´s Kennedy Space Center, the company said.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the aeroshell will encapsulate and protect the Mars 2020 rover during its deep space cruise to Mars, and from the intense heat as the entry system descends through the Martian atmosphere to the surface of Mars.

Because of the large mass and unique entry trajectory profile that could create external temperatures up to 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat shield uses a tiled Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA) thermal protection system instead of the Mars heritage Super Lightweight Ablator (SLA) 561V. This will only be the second time PICA has flown on a Mars mission.

The backshell and heat shield were transported from Lockheed Martin´s Waterton facility in Littleton, Colorado where they were built, to nearby Buckley Air Force Base. They were then loaded onto an Air Force transport plane and flown to NASA´s Kennedy Space Center.

The Mars 2020 rover is in testing at NASA´s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, which manages the Mars 2020 project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The mission will launch in July 2020 and land on Mars in February 2021 at the Jezero Crater.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.