FORT MYERS, Fla -- Next Friday, NASA will launch it's newest rover to Mars. Five thousand people have worked on every aspect of the mission for nearly five years, including the son of a Fort Myers couple.
"I think about it everyday. For the last five years, this has been my life," says Nicholas Onufer, a mechanical engineer with NASA.
The MSL Curiosity will take off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Friday November 25 at 10:21 a.m. It will take eight months to reach Mars and when it does a parachute, 50 feet in diameter, will bring the rover down. The purpose is to find signs of life on the red planet.
"It's a wild idea you built something that is going to Mars," Onufer said.
Onufer skyped with WINK News from California. He is a mechanical engineer with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Onufer helped develop and design the parachute and other aspects throughout the system.
"Basically I am going to think about it the entire way there," Onufer said.
Nicholas' parents glow with pride from their Fort Myers home. They will join their son next Friday in Cape Canaveral for the historic launch.
"It's very exciting to know your son is playing a little part of this kind of history," says Charles Onufer, Nicholas' father.
Curiosity will conduct the most intensive examination of Mars ever attempted. The launch was originally set to happen in 2009, but Nicholas says mechanical issues delayed it until now. After numerous tests in the worlds largest wind tunnel Nicholas is confident the parachute and the rover are ready to go.
"The Russians have failed numerous times so it's definitely a challenging thing. We're at a point where we're confident the way the system is going to work and I feel good about it," Onufer said.