Status Report

NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report 27 February 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
March 1, 2009
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Mission: Kepler
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7925
Launch Pad: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Date: No Earlier Than March 6, 2009
Launch Time: 10:49:57 p.m. EST

Engineers are reviewing hardware on the Taurus launch vehicle for commonality with the Delta II rocket carrying the Kepler telescope. On Tuesday, a Taurus XL rocket carrying NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory failed to achieve orbit. Managers want to confirm there will not be any related issues with Kepler’s Delta II.

Kepler’s original no-earlier-than March 5 launch date needed to be adjusted a day later to accommodate the additional time for analysis. The March 6 target date still needs to be confirmed with the U.S. Air Force, which manages the eastern launch range. Kepler’s Flight Readiness Review meeting is on Monday, March 2.

Kepler was moved to Launch Complex 17 on Feb. 19 and placed in a staging facility. The Kepler spacecraft was mated to its second stage on Feb. 21. The payload fairing was installed around the Kepler spacecraft yesterday. At Pad 17-B, mating of the spacecraft to the Delta II rocket occurred last weekend. A spacecraft countdown launch rehearsal will be conducted on March 3.

Mission: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter/Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LRO/LCROSS)
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V
Launch Pad: Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Date: No Earlier Than May 20, 2009
Launch Time: TBD

NASA now is targeting May 20 for launch instead of April 24 after another Atlas V government launch, which is scheduled for liftoff in March, experienced technical problems and was delayed. It will use the same launch pad that LRO/LCROSS will use.

NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, left Northrop Grumman’s facility in Redondo Beach, Calif., on Feb. 17 via truck and arrived at the Astrotech Facility in Titusville, Fla., near Kennedy Space Center, on Feb. 19.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, arrived at the facility on Feb. 13. The spacecraft was uncrated and transferred to a hazardous processing facility the same day, where covers were removed and technicians performed a black-light inspection. The spacecraft’s solar arrays were attached and deployed, and a spacecraft activation test was conducted on Feb. 15.

Several operations tests and simulations were conducted on both spacecraft during the past week.

The Centaur stage arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Feb. 20. It was offloaded and transported to the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center facility on Feb. 21. The launch vehicle fairing halves arrived at the payload processing facility on Feb 26.

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SpaceRef staff editor.