National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has postponed the launch of its Perseverance rover mission due to a processing delay encountered during the encapsulation activities of the spacecraft.

The launch has also been deferred due to contamination issues in the ground support lines in the space agency’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF).

Earlier, the Perseverance rover mission was scheduled to take off on 20 July, but NASA and United Launch Alliance are planning to blast it off 22 July.

“The launch of the Mars 2020 mission on an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is scheduled for 9.35 am ET with a two-hour window,” informed NASA.

As seen in this artist's concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The lifting-off of the rover has been delayed for the second time. The mission was originally slated to launch on 17 July, but got put off by three days because of a ground system equipment issue that involved a faulty crane.

The mission is aimed at searching for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars. It will also be collecting samples of the red planet that will be brought back to Earth on a later mission.

The Perseverance rover is the successor to the Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the Gale Crater on the red planet since August 2012.

The space agency has time till 11 August to launch the mission, whose duration will be around 687 Earth days. If the Mars-bound rover does not take off by mid-August, it would have to wait until 2022 when Earth and Mars come back in proper alignment. If the launch is delayed by two year, it would cost $500 million more to the nearly $3 billion mission.