MAVEN Update – 9/11/14

11 Sep

Ten days until MAVEN is placed into orbit around Mars.

Artists concept of the MAVEN Spacecraft - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Artists concept of the MAVEN Spacecraft – Courtesy of Wikipedia

On November 18th of 2013, I had the enormous pleasure to witness the launch of this space mission along side members of the project team. Our viewing site was at the base of the Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. It was a bucket list event to say the least.

Since then MAVEN has been hurtling toward Mars at over 27,000 miles an hour. All in-flight tests to date have been successful and the control center is buzzing with anticipation of the September 21st when, at 10:23 PM MST, MAVEN will be placed into orbit around the Red Planet. The process is described in this YouTube video.

I am always amazed by the science and mathematics involved in these projects. If the numbers used to calculate the trajectory of Mars, the Earth, or Maven are off, or the length of burn to enter orbit, a multi-million dollar scientific instrument can become just so much space junk. That’s why the term ‘failure is not an option’ is so closely related to the space program.

I am proud of the team who have spent years preparing for this. And, though I will not be able to sit in the control room as MAVEN enters orbit, rest assured that I will be glued to the NASA channel on my television. You will hear me cheering as the final corrections are made. Join with me in celebrating an achievement of dedicated people seeking knowledge that will help us understand one of the mysteries of space and perhaps understand our own planet.

If you are interested in my previous posts on the MAVEN Project, they can be found here.


Posted by on September 11, 2014 in MAVEN


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5 responses to “MAVEN Update – 9/11/14

  1. sknicholls

    September 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing. My husband is an engineer with Lockheed, so we’ve heard that precision matters…no room for error.

    • Dennis Langley

      September 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      The margin for error on these projects can be very small indeed. I’ve been very lucky to have a direct connection to this project. My brother was the Requirements Lead prior to launch and has since been transferred to the support team.

  2. robincoyle

    September 12, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I can’t balance my checkbook, so I can’t imagine the math it takes to pull off such a thing. Very cool. Good thing there are smart people in this world.

  3. Matthew Wright

    September 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Very cool indeed! As you say, a tremendous achievement – a LOT of careful and very hard work by some very highly skilled professionals, every step of the way. Good stuff. And there’ll be some fantastic science to come. Hopefully it won’t run into trouble when the comet skims by in a few weeks – but I gather that’s being looked at.

    • Dennis Langley

      September 15, 2014 at 10:39 am

      From what I’ve read and been told. the plan is to button everything up tight until it passes and pray that no random damage occurs. Then they cn open it back up and get to work.


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