Status Report

NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report 14 October 2011

By SpaceRef Editor
October 14, 2011
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Spacecraft: NPP (NPOESS Preparatory Project)
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 2
Launch Date: Oct. 27, 2011
Launch Window: 2:48:01 a.m. – 2:57:11 a.m. PDT (9 min., 10 sec.)
Orbital Altitude: 512 miles

At Vandenberg Air Force Base, the NPP spacecraft was moved from the Astrotech payload processing facility to NASA’s Space Launch Complex 2 on Oct. 13 and hoisted atop the Delta II rocket. Spacecraft “state of health” checks are scheduled on Oct. 14. The Flight Program Verification, an integrated test involving both the Delta II and NPP, is scheduled for Oct. 15. The CubeSat satellite carrier will be installed onto the rocket Oct. 17. The payload fairing will be installed around the spacecraft on Oct. 19.

NPP represents a critical first step in building the next-generation of Earth-observing satellites. NPP will carry the first of the new sensors developed for this satellite fleet, now known as the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), to be launched in 2016. NPP is the bridge between NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites and the forthcoming series of JPSS satellites. The mission will test key technologies and instruments for the JPSS missions.

Spacecraft: Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity)
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V-541 (AV-028)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 41
Launch Date: Nov. 25, 2011
Launch Time: 10:21 a.m. EST

At Launch Complex 41, the Atlas V rocket was moved from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad on Oct. 12 in preparation for the “Wet Dress Rehearsal” (WDR). During the afternoon, the RP-1 fuel, a highly refined kerosene, was loaded aboard and leak checks were conducted. The RP-1 will remain onboard until launch.

The WDR was conducted on Oct. 13, and all Atlas V systems were fully tested. Liquid oxygen was loaded aboard the first stage, and liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen were loaded into the second stage. The test concluded successfully, and the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen were then de-tanked from the launch vehicle. The Atlas V was set to be returned to the Vertical Integration Facility on Oct. 14. It will be rolled out to the pad once again on Nov. 23 in preparation for launch on Nov. 25.

In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF), integration of the Mars Science Laboratory systems for flight continues on schedule. The two halves of the payload fairing have arrived at the PHSF and are undergoing cleaning in preparation for encapsulation of the spacecraft later this month. MSL currently is set to be transported to Launch Complex 41 on or about Nov. 2.

The MLS Curiosity rover has 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars has had environments favorable for microbial life, including chemical ingredients for life. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release the gasses so that its spectrometer can analyze and send the data back to Earth.

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SpaceRef staff editor.