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NASA's Mars 2020 rover arrives at Florida launch site for July liftoff

The shipping container carrying NASA's Mars 2020 rover is readied for loading aboard an Air Force C-17 transport plane at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, on Feb. 11, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's newest Mars rover has just left the nest. 

The Mars 2020 rover, which is scheduled to launch to the Red Planet in July, arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday (Feb. 12), after completing a 2,300-mile (3,700 kilometers) journey from the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where it was built.

"Our rover has left the only home it has ever known," John McNamee, NASA's Mars 2020 project manager, said in a statement. "The 2020 family here at JPL is a little sad to see it go, but we're even more proud knowing that the next time our rover takes to the skies, it will be headed to Mars."

Related: How NASA's Mars 2020 rover will work (infographic)

Two U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo planes delivered the rover to Kennedy Space Center, along with the spacecraft's cruise stage, descent stage and Mars Helicopter, a drone that will hitch a ride to the Red Planet on the Mars 2020 rover. 

It will undergo final launch preparations there for the next few months before heading over to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41, where it will launch on an Atlas V rocket on July 17. 

Mars 2020 Assembly, Test and Launch Operations Manager David Gruel watches as members of his team loaded NASA's next Mars rover onto an Air Force C-17 at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, on Feb. 11, 2020. The rover was flown to Cape Canaveral, Florida, in preparation for its July launch. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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Hanneke Weitering

Hanneke Weitering is an editor at Space.com with 10 years of experience in science journalism. She has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time Hanneke likes to explore the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.