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Space Foundation commends MRO launch

08/11/2005

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 12, 2005) -- The Space Foundation today praised the successful launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as an important step in the Vision for Space Exploration. The Space Foundation congratulates NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and the entire MRO team on an out of this world beginning to a mission that will examine Mars in unmatched detail and lead the way to future exploration.

"Today's launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter accelerates the momentum of a blockbuster summer in space exploration," said Elliot G. Pulham, Space Foundation president and chief executive officer. "With the smashing success of Deep Impact, the continued exploits of the plucky Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, the heroic flight of Discovery and today's launch of MRO, America's space agency is lifting our spirits and leading us boldly into the future."

After a seven-month trip from Earth to Mars, MRO will arrive at the Red Planet in March 2006. The spacecraft will begin its 25-month mission of studying Mars’ composition and structure that November. Researchers will use MRO to study the history and distribution of Martian water. It will examine Martian features ranging from atmospheric to underground layers and will also evaluate possible sites for future Martian landings. After completion of its initial mission, the spacecraft will serve as a high-data-rate communications relay for surface missions.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, was the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its mission, go to www.nasa.gov.

About the Space Foundation

Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, the Space Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that vigorously advances civil, commercial, and national security space endeavors and educational excellence. The Space Foundation has offices in Washington, D.C., and Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Space Foundation annually conducts, along with its partnering organizations, Strategic Space 2005, Oct. 4-6, in Omaha, Neb.; Florida Space 2005, Nov. 15-17 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Fla.; and the Foundation’s signature event, the National Space Symposium, April 3-6, 2006, at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. For more information, visit www.spacefoundation.org.

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