Volga-Dnepr transports United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket booster to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a scheduled NASA mission to Mars on 17 July.
The AN-124-100 ‘Ruslan’, is the only aircraft large enough to carry the Atlas 5, and flew the 32-metre long 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 centerpiece of NASA’s USD 2.5 billion Mars 2020 mission.
The launch is scheduled at 09:10 on 17 July.