Status Report

NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report 21 July 2011

By SpaceRef Editor
July 21, 2011
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Spacecraft: Juno
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V-551 (AV-029)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 41
Launch Date: Aug. 5, 2011
Launch Time: 11:34 a.m. EDT

At the Astrotech payload processing facility near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Juno was encapsulated into the Atlas payload fairing on July 18. It will be hoisted onto the payload transporter on July 22. Transportation to the launch pad is scheduled for July 26. There it will be hoisted atop the rocket and a series of interface checks will begin.

At Launch Complex 41, the Atlas V was moved from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad on July 18. A “wet dress rehearsal” was conducted on July 19. The rocket was fully loaded with liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen and RP-1 fuel for this test, and a full countdown was performed. The Atlas V was moved back into the Vertical Integration Facility on July 20.

The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter’s poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Spacecraft: GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory)
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920 Heavy
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 17B
Launch Date: Sept. 8, 2011
Launch Time: 8:37:06 a.m. EDT and 9:16:12 a.m. EDT

At Astrotech, a science system verification test was performed on GRAIL-A. Cruise spacecraft system functional testing has resumed on GRAIL-B.

The spacecraft are to be moved to a hazardous processing facility on July 29 to begin preparations for fueling. Loading of the propellants is scheduled for Aug. 2-3.

At NASA’s Space Launch Complex 17B, cryogenic flow testing on the Delta II rocket was conducted on July 21. The first stage was filled with liquid oxygen to check for leaks, and this also served as a launch team certification.

GRAIL’s primary science objectives are to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core, and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

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. 25, 2011
Launch Window: 2:47:35 a.m. – 2:57:35 a.m. PDT

At Space Launch Complex 2, the Delta II first stage was hoisted into position in the launcher and secured on July 20. The three solid rocket boosters will be attached July 27-29. The second stage will be hoisted atop the first stage on Aug. 1.

The payload fairing was hoisted into the mobile service tower on July 19 where it will be stored until the NPP spacecraft arrives at the pad in October.

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

On July 15, the Curiosity rover was hoisted and rotated to the wheels-down position, placed on a test stand and the wheels deployed. On July 18, the rover was lowered onto its wheels on the high bay floor, and the instrument mast and science boom were deployed. Electrical testing of the rover is under way.

The Atlas V for the mission is currently expected to arrive at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station late this month. It will be an Atlas V-541 configuration that will have four solid rocket boosters attached.

The rover’s 10 science instruments will search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source. 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.

Previous status reports are available at:

SpaceRef staff editor.