Big week ahead for Space Coast: Astronauts return to Earth; Mars rover launch

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — It’s going to be a busy week for Florida’s Space Coast as NASA readies the launch of a new rover mission to Mars followed by two astronauts’ return to Earth.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will be blasted into space on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for Thursday at 7:50 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

WATCH: Mars rover Perseverance ready for launch from Space Coast

Monday afternoon, NASA officials will give an update on the final preparations ahead of Thursday’s mission to Mars.

NASA also plans to give updates throughout the week on everything around the Mars mission, including engineering details, science payloads and the process of returning samples from Mars to Earth.

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will search for signs of ancient life on the red planet, and should reach the surface of Mars by mid-February.

NASA is also planning the return of astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley over the weekend.

Behnken and Hurley made history in May when they became the first astronauts launched from U.S. soil in nearly ten years after they flew to orbit inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Watch: SpaceX crewed rocket lifts off in historic launch

After two months at the International Space Station, the duo are expected to begin their journey back around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida Sunday afternoon.

When the Mars 2020 Perseverance launch and astronauts’ return missions happen, you can watch them live on Channel 9.