NASA Mars launch delayed one day to replace suspect battery

CBS News

Launch of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory rover atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket has been delayed one day, from Friday to Saturday, Nov. 26, to give engineers time to replace a suspect battery in the booster's self-destruct system.

Under the revised schedule, the Atlas 5 will be hauled from its processing facility to launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday, setting the stage for liftoff at 10:02 a.m. EST (GMT-5) Saturday, the opening of a one-hour, 43-minute launch window.

An artist's impression of the Mars Science Laboratory rover "Curiosity" exploring the red planet. (Credit: NASA)

Assuming a successful launch, the Mars Science Laboratory will plunge into the red planet's atmosphere in August 2012 and lower the nuclear-powered rover to the surface on cables suspended from a rocket-powered "sky crane." NASA expects the rover to spend at least two years exploring a crater near the planet's equator looking for carbon compounds and signs of past and present habitability.