Atlas 5 is set to launch the next Mars Rover in 2020
On August 25th NASA announced that its next Mars rover would utilize the same launch vehicle version used by its predecessor the ‘Curiosity.’
The Mars 2020 rover launch to Mars contract was awarded to United Launch Alliance, and the launch will take place in July 2020 using the Atlas 5 541 launch vehicle. The total amount of money granted for the contract is $243 million, and it includes the payload processing and other related processes.
The basis of the Mars 2020 has been derived from the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which was responsible for safely landing the Curiosity rover on the Martian surface back in 2012.
The mission was also launched on the Atlas 5 541, and the contract for the mission was awarded to a parent company of ULA named Lockheed Martin in June 2006 for a total of $195 million ($232 million today after appreciation adjustments)
The Atlas 5 is the only NASA certified launch vehicle with the capability to launch payload that is carrying radioisotope thermoelectric generators as well as a nuclear power source that the new rover and its predecessor use.