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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- Technicians prepared for removal of Viking Lander 1's aeroshell cover in KSC's Spacecraft Assembly and Encapsulation Facility 2 (SAEF-2) today. The cover remains over the Lander throughout its 440,000,000-mile journey to Mars. After the Lander separates from the Orbiter, the aeroshell will help to decelerate the speed of descent and will serve as a heat shield. After the aeroshell separates, the Lander's parachute will deploy at about 4,000 feet altitude to further slow descent for a soft landing on the Red Planet. The Kennedy Space Center will launch the first Viking from Complex 41, Cape Canaveral, no earlier than Aug. 11. The second Viking will be launched no earlier than Aug. 21.
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