Press Release

Dawn Launching on Delta II Sept. 26 to Explore Planetary Mysteries

By SpaceRef Editor
September 16, 2007
Filed under , ,
Dawn Launching on Delta II Sept. 26 to Explore Planetary Mysteries

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Launch of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 26, from Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch window is 7:25 to 7:54 a.m. EDT. NASA’s Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center is responsible for the launch of Dawn aboard a Delta II rocket. United Launch Alliance is conducting the launch service for NASA. Should the launch be postponed 24 hours for any reason, the launch window will extend from 7:20 to 7:49 a.m. EDT. For a 48-hour postponement, the launch window will be from 7:14 to 7:43 a.m.

Dawn’s goal is to characterize the conditions and processes of the solar system’s earliest epoch 4.5 billion years ago by investigating in detail two of the largest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. They reside between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt. Scientists theorize these were budding planets never given the opportunity to grow. However, Ceres and Vesta each followed a very different evolutionary path during the solar system’s first few million years. By investigating two diverse asteroids during the spacecraft’s eight-year flight, the Dawn mission aims to unlock some of the mysteries of planetary formation. Dawn will be the first spacecraft to orbit an object in the asteroid belt and the first to orbit two bodies after leaving Earth. Recent images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope raise further intriguing questions about the evolution of these asteroids.

Prelaunch Press Conference

A prelaunch press conference will be held at the NASA News Center at Kennedy Space Center at 1 p.m. EDT on Monday, Sept. 24. Participating in the briefing will be:

Jim Adams, Deputy Director, Planetary Science Division
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Omar Baez, NASA Launch Director/Launch Manager
Kennedy Space Center

Kris Walsh, Director of Delta NASA and Commercial Programs
United Launch Alliance, Littleton, Colo.

Keyur Patel, Dawn Project Manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Marc Rayman, Dawn Project Systems Engineer Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Joel Tumbiolo, U.S. Air Force Delta II Launch Weather Officer
45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

The Dawn mission science briefing held at KSC on July 6 will be replayed immediately following the prelaunch press conference.

Dawn Post-launch Press Conference

A post-launch press conference will be held at the NASA News Center at noon EDT to provide details on the state of health of the Dawn spacecraft. Participating in the briefing will be:

Jim Adams, Deputy Directory, Planetary Science Division
NASA Headquarters

Keyur Patel, Dawn Project Manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Chris Russell, Dawn Principal Investigator
University of California, Los Angeles

A post-launch press release will also be issued once first contact with the Dawn spacecraft has been made through the Deep Space Network’s Goldstone tracking station. Official spokespersons will be available at the NASA News Center for interviews at that time.

Accreditation and Media Access Badges for KSC and CCAFS

The accreditation process for NASA’s expendable launch vehicle missions has changed. All news media, including those who are permanently badged, must complete the accreditation process for the activities associated with the Dawn launch. The press accreditation process may be done via the Web by going to:

Accreditation requests for the Dawn prelaunch, launch and post-launch activities at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station must be received by the close of business Friday, Sept. 21. Media without permanent credentials may obtain NASA access badges at the Pass and Identification (Pass & ID) building located on State Road 405 just east of U.S. 1. To obtain an access badge, two forms of government-issued identification are required, including at least one with a picture.

Badge pick-up timeline:

– by 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 24, for remote camera setup

– by noon on Monday, Sept. 24, for those attending the prelaunch activities

– by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, for attending the launch and post-launch activities

Remote Camera Placement at Complex 17

Tuesday, Sept. 25: Photographers who wish to set up remote cameras at the Delta launch complex will be escorted by a NASA representative to Pad 17-B. Departure by vehicle convoy will be at 9 a.m. from the Space Florida parking lot located on Poseidon Avenue, adjacent to Gate 1 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Launch Day Press Site Access to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Wednesday, Sept. 26: Verification of pre-issued press credentials and sign-in will begin at 6 a.m. at the Space Florida parking lot. Media covering the Dawn launch will be required to show their permanent KSC credentials or temporary KSC machine badge before being allowed to participate in the caravan traveling to the media viewing site. Following the launch, media will be escorted via caravan back to Gate 1. Those media requiring access to the KSC Press Site for post-launch activities must proceed through Gate 2 on State Road 3. Media requiring remote camera retrieval will remain at the media viewing site until escorted to the launch pad. Following camera retrieval, participating media will be escorted back to Gate 1.

To reach the Space Florida parking lot, after passing the Pass and Identification Building outside Gate 1 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, turn right at the traffic light at the intersection of S.R. 401 and Poseidon Avenue. Make an immediate left turn at the Navaho display.

Press Site 1 is currently planned to be used for this launch. However, because this launch is a Delta II Heavy configuration with larger solid rocket boosters, there is a chance that for safety reasons the media viewing site will be atop the Trident Bluff on south Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. There is no infrastructure at this location, so news media should plan on being fully self-contained. A wireless Internet capability will be available. Check with the NASA News Center at KSC if it is necessary to determine in advance which viewing site will be used.

News Center Hours for Launch

The NASA News Center at KSC will open for Dawn news operations starting Monday, Sept. 24, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Status reports on the launch of Dawn and any updates to the media advisory will be recorded on the KSC news media codaphone at 321-867-2525.

Television Coverage

On Monday, Sept. 24, television coverage of the Dawn prelaunch press conference at KSC will begin at 1 p.m. EDT. Two-way question and answer capability will be available from other NASA field centers. On Wednesday, Sept. 26, television coverage of the launch will begin at 5:15 a.m. EDT and conclude after spacecraft separation from the Delta II rocket which occurs 62 minutes after launch. The broadcast network HDNet will also carry the launch in high-definition television format from 7 to 7:30 a.m. EDT. For more information, visit or check local listings.

Audio of the prelaunch press conference will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, 1240, 1260 beginning at 1 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 24. On launch day, Sept. 26, “Mission Audio,” countdown activities without NASA launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135 beginning at 4:15 a.m. EDT. Audio of the NASA launch commentary will begin at 5:15 a.m. EDT and will be available on 321-867-1220, 1240, 1260. It will also be available on amateur radio frequency 146.940 MHz (VHF), heard within Brevard County.

For information on receiving NASA Television, go to:

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage

NASA’s home on the Internet,, will provide extensive prelaunch and launch day coverage of the Dawn mission.

Live countdown coverage from NASA’s Launch Blog begins at 5:15 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Coverage will feature real-time updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

To access other interactive features, go to the NASA Dawn main page at For more information about Dawn mission online events, contact Jeanne Ryba at 321-867-7824.

SpaceRef staff editor.