NASA hopes third time's the charm for Mars probe launch
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.
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.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Mars Pathfinder launch
Wednesday 2:00 a.m. EST
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