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The Mars Science Laboratory is a NASA/JPL mission to send the next generation of rover to Mars. Originally slated for launch in 2009, development problems led to a delay in the project until the next launch opportunity in 2011. Amidst the delay process, the Launch/Cruise Solar Thermal Vacuum Test was undertaken as risk reduction for the project. With varying maturity and capabilities of the flight and ground systems, undertaking the test in a safe manner presented many challenges. This paper describes the technical and management challenges and the actions undertaken that led to the ultimate safe and successful execution of the test.