On May 18, Volga-Dnepr transported an Atlas 5 rocket booster to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a scheduled mission to Mars.
The AN-124-100 ‘Ruslan’, is the only aircraft large enough to carry the Atlas 5, and flew the 32m rocket booster, from Huntsville, Alabama to its final launch location. In addition to the over-length piece, Volga-Dnepr also transported payload fairings and RD-180 engines for the special mission.
After unloading the unique cargo piece from the aircraft, ULA moved the rocket into the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center for post-shipment checks.
The high profile delivery signalled the start of a new phase of launch preparations for the Perseverance Rover, the centrepiece of NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars 2020 mission.
The launch is scheduled at 09:10 (EDT) on July 17.