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NASA MARS OBSERVER SPACECRAFT SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED ABOARD MARTIN MARIETTA TITAN III

 NASA MARS OBSERVER SPACECRAFT SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED
 ABOARD MARTIN MARIETTA TITAN III
 CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Sept. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- NASA achieved the first step toward a return visit to Mars with the successful launch today of its Mars Observer spacecraft on-board a Martin Marietta Titan III space launch vehicle.
 The Titan III rocketed into space at 1:05 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 40, beginning the first U.S. mission to Mars since the successful NASA Viking landings of 1976. Martin Marietta built the Mars landers for Project Viking.
 Mars Observer will arrive at the planet in 11 months to conduct a comprehensive study of the Martian surface and atmosphere over a period of a full Martian year, equal to 687 Earth days.
 The spacecraft will map the planet's surface and profile its atmosphere using a set of advanced-technology instruments, allowing scientists to better understand Mars' geological history and evolution of its interior and surface. These data will provide a basis for comparing Mars with Earth and Venus and support future robotic and human exploration of the planet.
 The mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Martin Marietta Astronautics Group, in addition to providing the Titan III expendable launch vehicle, built under contract to Orbital Sciences Corp. the Transfer Orbit Stage (TOS), which boosted the spacecraft on its journey to Mars. Martin Marietta also provided the gamma ray spectrometer instrument that will detect and measure gamma rays emitted from the planet's surface in order to determine its elemental composition.
 Mars Observer also market the first use of Launch Complex 40, built by Astronautics Group subcontractor Bechtel National Inc. for the Air Force. The $355-million, 26-story Titan launch facility will be utilized for future Air Force missions.
 "The Mars Observer mission encompasses many of our corporation's technologies and capabilities and demonstrates our continued role in supporting NASA with our civil space instruments and launch systems. This mission is a tribute to the entire NASA and contractor team who have worked for several years to help make Mars Observer a success," said Peter B. Teets, president of Martin Marietta Astronautics Group.
 Martin Marietta Astronautics Group, headquartered in Denver, designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense. Principal products include civil and military space and communications systems, space launch systems and strategic systems for the Department of Defense.
 -0- 9/25/92
 /CONTACT: Terry Monrad of Martin Marietta Astronautics Group, 303-977-5364/ CO: Martin Marietta Astronautics Group ST: Colorado IN: ARO SU:


MC -- DV005 -- 3571 09/25/92 14:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 25, 1992
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