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Nation IN BRIEF : FLORIDA

Mars Spacecraft Set for Launching

November 06, 1996|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Mars Global Surveyor, the first in an international armada of spacecraft bound for the Red Planet, was set for blastoff today, U.S. space agency officials said. A McDonnell Douglas Corp. Delta 2 rocket was to soar aloft with the 1-ton Mars probe from the Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida at 9:11 p.m. PST. The weather was expected to be favorable for launch, officials said. The craft will be followed on Nov. 16 by Russia's Mars 96 and a second U.S. craft, Mars Pathfinder, scheduled for launch on Dec. 2. Much of the data beamed back from Surveyor will be used to scout out landing sites for future robotic missions to Mars, some of which may return samples of Martian rock to Earth. If all goes as planned, Surveyor will enter an egg-shaped orbit around Mars in September 1997. By March 1998 the spacecraft will be positioned to begin its study.

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