Status Report

NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report 21 September 2011

By SpaceRef Editor
September 21, 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. 25, 2011
Launch Window: 2:48:01 a.m. – 2:57:11 a.m. PDT
Orbital Altitude: 512 miles

At Vandenberg Air Force Base, instrument inspection and cleaning of the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft are under way and preparations for fueling the spacecraft have started. Loading of the hydrazine propellant currently is planned for Sept. 23. The NPP spacecraft will be transported to the launch pad for attachment to the Delta II rocket on Oct. 7.

United Launch Alliance team members have returned to Vandenberg from the GRAIL launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and have resumed testing of the Delta II rocket at NASA’ s Space Launch Complex 2. Pneumatic system testing is under way on the first and second stages with control system testing scheduled for next week. This will be followed by loading of the first stage with liquid oxygen for a leak check on Sept. 29. It also will serve as a crew certification for the countdown on launch day, Oct. 25.

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 four solid rocket boosters have been attached to the Atlas first stage booster. The Centaur upper stage will be moved to the launch complex and hoisted atop the Atlas on Sept. 21.

NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), which is based at Kennedy Space Center, completed the Launch Vehicle Readiness Review on Sept. 19 and issued concurrence for proceeding with the upcoming activities associated with the integration of the spacecraft and the launch vehicle. This is one of the incremental readiness reviews conducted by LSP in preparation for various milestones leading to launch.

At Kennedy’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, functional testing of the Curiosity rover is complete. Contamination control cleaning of the rover has been finished, and final planetary protection samples have been taken inside the rover. Internal closeouts have been completed. The front wheels have been installed for flight. The descent stage was mated to the rover on Sept. 19.

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.