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NASA hopes third time's the charm for Mars probe launch

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  • December 3, 1996
    Web posted at: 9:00 p.m. EST

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) -- NASA will be happy to see the backside of the Mars Pathfinder probe early Wednesday after having to reschedule its launch twice.

    The Mars Pathfinder is carrying a small six-wheeled robotic rover that will be operated by remote control from Earth and investigate the red planet's geology.

    The launch was on schedule for Wednesday at 1:58 a.m. EST. The Pathfinder is scheduled to arrive on Mars on July 4, 1997, two months ahead of another U.S. probe, Mars Global Surveyor, sent last month.

    Tuesday's planned launch was foiled by a last-minute glitch with a ground computer, since resolved. Monday's launch was delayed by rain and strong winds.

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    NASA has until December 31 to send Mars Pathfinder on its 310 million-mile trek. After that, the next window for launch will not appear for two years.

    "We're a museum piece if we don't launch by the 31st," said Curt Cleven, launch operations manager.


    Pathfinder QuickTime Movies
    movie icon NASA Animation of Pathfinder landing on Mars and deploying its rover 30 second, 1.1M QuickTime movie
    movie icon Did life in our solar system begin on Mars? 37 second, 1.4M QuickTime movie
    movie icon Researchers at Stanford University demonstrate the process by which they look inside meteorites 24 second, 942k QuickTime movie

    Reuters contributed to this report.



    CNN ON-AIR Mars Pathfinder launch
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