Although NASA’s officials are confident the mission will blast off this summer, further delays could be devastating.
Launching payloads to Mars requires selecting an optimal launch window for the shortest possible trip – about seven to eight months.
If the Mars 2020 rover does not launch within this window, the next opportunity will not arrive for another 26 months.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “It’s very expensive if we have to take Perseverance and put it back into storage for a period of two years. It could cost half a billion dollars.”
Perseverance will follow in the footsteps of NASA’s Curiosity rover and search the Red Planet for signs of life, past and present.