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Atlas V Mars rocket takes off Monday at KSC. Space Center is best place to view launch, but you can also try looking east

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm

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The Red Planet will once again be getting all the attention with the historic launch of MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Monday.
As usual, the  Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will offer the best view of launch, which has a launch window of from 1:28 to 3:28 p.m.
Launch viewing is included in regular Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex admission and features live mission control commentary. Visitor Complex guests may view the launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the closest possible public viewing area, or specially designated areas at the Visitor Complex. Guests may bring blankets and compact “umbrella-style” folding chairs that are carried in shoulder bags. Space will be available on a first come, first serve basis.
The MAVEN mission will explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of vital compounds from the atmosphere to space has played through time. This data will provide insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, and whether the planet was ever capable of supporting life. MAVEN is the first mission dedicated to measuring the upper atmosphere of the planet.
The Visitor Complex will celebrate the MAVEN launch with four days of special launch-related activities, including a presentation on Sunday, Nov. 17 by Bill Nye of the Emmy award-winning TV show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy®.”  Nye will speak to guests, preparing them for the launch of the MAVEN spacecraft. Nye is the chief executive officer of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest group, as well as a scientist, former Boeing engineer, stand-up comedian, author, inventor and man on a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society. He is the host of three currently running TV shows including “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” on the Science Channel, “The Eyes of Nye” on PBS and “Stuff Happens” on Planet Green.
From Thursday, Nov. 14 through Sunday, Nov. 17, Visitor Complex guests can discover a wide array of displays, exhibits and models themed around Humans 2 Mars including:
· Learn about Humans 2 Mars by the 2030s; Mars past, present and future; recent scientific discoveries on Mars; and NASA’s Launch Services Program
· Mark the 10th anniversary of Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity
· View Mars as Art and a 3D Mars landscapes complete with 3D glasses
· Take the exploration challenge playing interactive games
· Stand next to a 30-foot tall inflatable Space Launch System and a six-foot tall Atlas rocket model
· Explore the future of human space exploration through displays on the Space Launch System, Orion capsule, Commercial Crew Program and a manned Mars mission
Guests also have the opportunity to hear firsthand from experts about the fascinating science behind MAVEN during daily presentations including:
·Nov. 15, 11 a.m., Sandra Cauffman, MAVEN deputy project manager, Goddard Space Flight Center and 4 p.m., Dave Lavery, program executive for Solar System Exploration, NASA Headquarters
·Nov. 16, 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Jim Green, NASA planetary science chief, NASA headquarters
· Nov. 17, 11 a.m., Sandra Cauffman, MAVEN deputy manager, Goddard Space Flight Center and 2 p.m., Bill Nye the Science Guy
All presentations and special displays and exhibits are included in regular admission to the Visitor Complex. Launch date and time are subject to change. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 877-313-2610 and visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.
About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun and educational activities, including the new Angry Birds™ Space Encounter, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space®: Explorers Wanted and many other interactive exhibits. The new $100 million home for Space Shuttle AtlantisSM opened June 29, 2013. Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia, which opens daily at noon and closing times vary by season. Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. with closing times varying by season.  Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers annual passes starting at $75 + tax for adults and $60 + tax for children ages 3-11.
For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

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