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MARTIN MARIETTA ROLLS OUT TITAN THAT WILL LAUNCH MARS OBSERVER

 MARTIN MARIETTA ROLLS OUT TITAN THAT WILL LAUNCH MARS OBSERVER
 DENVER, Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's return to Mars began today with the "roll out" of the Martin Marietta launch vehicle that will lift the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Mars Observer into orbit in September.
 The Titan III launch vehicle, a 145-foot, 766-ton rocket that can boost 31,000-pound payloads into space, will soon leave Martin Marietta Astronautics Group's Waterton factory in Denver for shipment to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
 During ceremonies in Denver, NASA Associate Administrator Dr. Lennard A. Fisk said shipment of the Titan III was the first step in the United States' journey back to Mars. "The Mars Observer mission is important because it will give us very detailed information about Mars -- data that is substantially different than we've previously had in terms of possible life or water on Mars. The data will lay the foundation for future generations to explore the planet."
 Peter B. Teets, president of Martin Marietta Astronautics Group said, "We are proud to be on the Mars Observer team and we are confident of mission success in the best tradition of the NASA Viking missions in 1976."
 Martin Marietta has a $158 million contract with the NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, to provide the launch vehicle and associated launch services for Mars Observer.
 Martin Marietta also is providing the transfer orbit stage (TOS), the upper stage rocket that will boost the spacecraft from low-Earth orbit on its 11-month journey to Mars. The TOS, which was shipped to Cape Canaveral on Jan. 6, was built by Martin Marietta for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., under $142 million contract to Orbital Sciences Corp. of McLean, Va.
 The gamma ray spectrometer instrument, built by Martin Marietta under a $22 million contract to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., is one of the spacecraft's seven science instruments that will analyze the gamma rays emitted from the Martian surface to help scientists determine the abundance of elements -- such as uranium, thorium, potassium, iron and silicon -- on Mars.
 Mars Observer is scheduled to be launched from newly-renovated Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 40 during a planetary launch window that begins Sept. 16 and ends Oct. 13. The spacecraft will arrive at the planet in September 1993, marking the first return to the red planet since NASA's Viking exploration missions in 1976 for which Martin Marietta built the two Viking landers and the Titan IIIs which launched them.
 The spacecraft will conduct a comprehensive study of the planet's geology and global climate for one Martian year, or 687 Earth days. Information returned will allow scientific comparisons among Earth, Mars and Venus and will set the course for future robotic and human exploration of Mars. Using data from Mars Observer, scientists will construct a detailed global portrait of Marian geology, climate and weather.
 The Titan III is a member of the Titan launch vehicle series that has been the U.S. Air Force's principal launch system for more than 20 years. Titan IIIs have delivered more than 200 payloads into Earth orbits or on missions to the sun and planets, including the Gemini series, Voyager and Viking missions for NASA.
 The Astronautics Group provides advanced technology products and services for our nation's space and defense requirements. Headquartered in Denver, the group also has operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
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 /CONTACT: Martin Marietta Public Affairs, 303-977-5364/ CO: Martin Marietta Astronautics Group ST: Colorado IN: ARO SU:


MC -- DV004 -- 1448 02/21/92 14:41 EST
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Date:Feb 21, 1992
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