back to article NASA nuclear Mars tank launch delayed by one day

The launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which contains the Curiosity rover, has been delayed by a day to November 26. NASA said today that it was taking the extra time to allow the team to remove and replace a flight termination system battery. Liftoff will now take place sometime during the one hour and 43 minute …


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  1. Blofeld's Cat

    Just in case?

    "...a flight termination system battery."

    Is that what we used to call surface-to-air missiles?

  2. Naughtyhorse

    You don't want to listen to me...

    But i bet they'll find evidence of and advanced hydrocarbon addicted civilisation beneath the surface, having been driven there as the atmosphere was destroyed by their love of hydrocarbon.

    And while the civilisation was relatively techologically advanced, it was hampered by a corrupt and backward looking philosophical\political system that simply refused to acknowledge the irreprable damage their dalliance with HCs was doing, preferring to concentrate on the aquisition of meaningless tokens until it was too late.

    Finally driven underground the civilisation died a slow and painful death as the complex interdependencies between the alpha beings of the surviving civilisation and the lesser biomass became exposed when the biomass gradualy slipped into extinction.

    So different to us, theres nothing for us to learn there - seems little point in going really.


  3. TRT Silver badge

    It'd be ironic if...

    the launch vehicle for this mission crashed into that Russian job on the way up.

    1. Bracknellexile

      So "Collision After Takeoff" (CAT) killed the Curiosity?

    2. Francis Boyle

      They won't be going anywhere near "the Russian Job"

      Phobos-Grunt's just a distraction to keep the Martians occupied while Curiosity slips out the back way.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inappropriate content

    Lovely, another Register article I can't see half of - I presume the big box in the middle with the disconcerting words "Unauthorised access to inappropriate content" relate to yet another link to YooChoob?


    I've said it before - some of us on the inside of corporate firewalls don't have access to such sites.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not working at a corporate, penny-pinching, "don't spare the whip", "eyes forward" joint, but the one thing they could do when embedding YouTube stuff is to have a nice illustration for those of us not running Flash.

      Even the Beeb can manage that kind of thing, scaremongerers and technophobes that they supposedly are.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe you'll have to do something else

      like work

  5. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Sky Crane

    "Fitted with 25 feet of high-tensile steel cable."

    "You mean 25 metres of cable."

    "No, I'm sure the spec said feet."

  6. DJ 2

    With a 65% failure rate for mars missions, and the last 6 mars missions being a success.. I'll be watching with popcorn..

  7. Andy 70

    anon @ 14:10

    agreed. starting to get a little irritated with the embedded link through content.

    please can i have something i can read that looks like text which can be misconstrude as working rather than the nsfw activity of uchoobing.

    many thanks, your corporate readership.

    colon closebracket smiley face.

  8. Ian Ferguson

    Looks massively overengineered and complicated

    So many bits to go wrong!

  9. madick

    Good luck, but ...

    The video suggests that there are far too many moving parts for Curiosity to be reliable. Anyone care to guess at the probabilty of damage on landing, collision damage during use, damage from sand storms and/or ice, or just good old-fashioned mechanical or electro-mechanical failure?

  10. JeffyPooh

    "...nuclear-propelled space truck, which is about the size of a small SUV..."

    What could possibly go wrong with that?

    I'll be in my bunker until it's left Earth orbit. :-)

  11. Bracknellexile

    Looking at that video, once the parachute's detached, the Sky Crane looks remarkably aerodynamically unstable. A half-decent Martian sandstorm crosswind and it'll be all over the shop! I can see Curiosity landing on its back and flailing like an upended tortoise. Haven't they watched Robot Wars? Don't they realise that all good robots need a SRIMECH*?

    * I'm assuming that's how it's spelt. I've never actually seen the shortened version of "self-righting mechanism" written down before.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. Ah, maybe not.

      "A half-decent Martian sandstorm crosswind and it'll be all over the shop!"

      What! With an atmospheric pressure of 600 pascal?

      I think sandworms are a more likely danger.

      1. Bracknellexile

        Fair point, well made.

  12. Jim O'Reilly

    NASA is Santa's Toy Shopppe

    NASA seems to be fixated on developing "Where no-one has gone before" science robots. They would serve us better if they concentrated on robot re-useability rather than unique, state-of-the-art (=untried) singleton projects.

    We'd be better off if they could drop 6 similar robots for say $2.4 billion, rather than 6 SAMs at $1.6 Billion each. Then, if they created a "bus" to carry a bunch of these robots, one launch might land them all!

    We should buy everyone at NASA a LEGO for Xmas, and make them read Eli Whitney's biography on Xmas eve. It's clear they are in a space bubble, and don't understand reusable designs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      i agree

      for example, the juno probe will be crashed into jupiter once its finished, with its honking great big solar panels.

      Why not have a line out on the thing so a next gen probe can use it as a power supply?

      Same with the ISS. (although the ISS isnt in a stable orbit)

      Youd think with the enormous amount it costs to get these thing out there, people would look at re-using bits, especially when they have already gone through the expense of getting out of earths gravity well.

  13. Beachrider

    Sky Crane Stability

    It certainly looks complex. They have tried it on Earth (with a MUCH denser atmosphere and greater gravity), and it worked several times.

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating!

    (I think that they removed the MG suspension pieces, whew!)

  14. DJO Silver badge

    I thought we knew why Mars lost its atmosphere:

    Small planet = not a lot of gravity so gas escapes quickly

    Core cooled down so no volcanic activity and thus no fresh gas to replace the lost atmosphere. Also with a cold core the magnetosphere was lost so the solar wind blasted the gas away.

    So all the light elemental gases escape while some of the heaver gaseous compounds will remain so you would expect a very thin atmosphere of mainly CO2 which is exactly what we find..

  15. MahFL22


    MSL and Curiosity are the same thing, the rover. The rover contains 2 labs. I don't think they are actually searching for water, that question has been answered, they are searching for evidence of organic material, or conditions which would have allowed organics to form.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've no idea if it is "over engineered", or whatever, as I've no idea what it takes to land something on the face of another planet. However, it does look like there's a shed load to go wrong. Fingers crossed :)

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Let's hope that the Martians are easy-going.....

    I'd be pretty pissed if somebody parachuted a nuclear-powered robot into my backyard and it started melting everything with its deathray laser....

    I'm betting on a horde of tentacled invaders or zombie-creating space-virus biological attack when Mars next aligns with Earth!!

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


      Don't mention the Mysterons, I did once, but I think I got away with it.

  18. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Did the name SAM after Commander Vimes?

    Would be appropriate to have him looking for water (though deep down he just wants a drink)

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