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Rocket Prepared For Launch to Mars

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Atlas 5 launcher erected for MAVEN's launch to Mars

United Launch Alliance on Friday began assembling the Atlas 5 rocket assigned to launch NASA's MAVEN mission in November and send the orbiter on a 10-month cruise to Mars to help decipher the red planet's thinning atmosphere.

The Atlas 5's bronze first stage traveled from a storage building at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., to the Vertical Integration Facility at Complex 41 early Friday. Cranes hoisted the 106.6-foot-long first stage vertical and deftly placed the rocket atop the Atlas 5's mobile launch table.

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