The Atlas V rocket is a marvel. This rocket put the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity into space.
Curiosity weighs 1,980 lbs. She’s the size of a small SUV.

The pictures are from NASA.

Curiosity, a big, bold, beauty.

Curiosity had a heat shield.

There is a parachute inside to slow down the approach to Mars when landing. Biggest one ever used for landing on Mars.

A drawing of the parachute helping to slow down the aeroshell.

And a back shell.

This is a drawing of what the aeroshell looked when it is in the atmosphere of Mars during the landing stage.

A drawing of how Curiosity landed.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter saw Curiosity’s heat shield as she was landing.

A drawing for a closer look at the Sky Crane. Curiosity talked to him on the way down and he listened. You’ll see the ropes which are called a bridle to place Curiosity on the ground. They used pyrotechnics, like the stuff for fireworks to cut the ropes once she was on Mars.
As a side note, NASA, JPL was out of contact with Curiosity for a full 7 minutes while she went down through the Mars atmosphere. They didn’t know that she was okay until she sent the first image of Mars. I imagine that they really hoped she’d land on her wheels and not her side.

Curiosity Landed on August 6, 2012.

Back to Curiosity going to the launch pad and Atlas V.

Curiosity was put into a crate to travel from California to Florida. She is in an US Air Force C-17.

This is a diagram of the Atlas V rocket. It’s from Lockheed Martin who built it for NASA.  You are on your own.

Atlas V common core booster going to the launch pad.

Atlas V common core booster and the booster (first stage) being placed in launch frame.

Atlas V Centaur upper stage being lifter to go on top of the common core booster in the launch frame.

I’m putting in a picture of the Atlas V rocket during fueling. That’s not Curiosity on top.

This is the logo for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.

They call this Payload fairing. I call it a capsule. The capsule is about to be lifted to the top of Atlas V.

The first word of Curiosity’s tweet: WHEE!

A part of another tweet by Curiosity: LET’s LIGHT THIS CANDLE!

The last two pictures. Atlas V and Curiosity launch. November 26, 2011.

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