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Jun 23, 2011 8:55 PM by Matt Stafford

NASA prepping next Mars spacecraft for fall launch

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - NASA's next roving spacecraft to the surface of Mars has arrived in Florida after a cross-country flight to undergo final testing.

A C-17 cargo jet carrying the rover nicknamed Curiosity took off from March Air Force Base in California and arrived Wednesday night in Florida.

Engineers will spend the next several months prepping the rover for its November launch.

The $2.5 billion mission was supposed to fly in 2009, but problems during development pushed costs up and delayed launch.

Curiosity is scheduled to land in August 2012 and will study whether the Martian environment was ever favorable for microbial life.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the program, formally known as the Mars Science Laboratory.

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