Status Report

NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report 3 November 2011

By SpaceRef Editor
November 3, 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. 28, 2011
Launch Time: 2:48:01.828 a.m. PDT
Orbital Altitude: 512 miles

At Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., the liftoff of the Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s NPP spacecraft occurred at 2:48:01.828 a.m. PDT. Spacecraft separation from the second stage of the rocket occurred 58 minutes after launch at 3:46 a.m. The spacecraft’s solar arrays successfully deployed 67 minutes after liftoff and immediately began supplying power to the 4,994-pound satellite. Then, at 4:26 a.m. PDT, the deployment sequence began for the six CubeSat research satellites from four universities as elements of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) missions.

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: 10:25 a.m. EST

The Mars Science Laboratory was moved from NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) to Space Launch Complex 41 during the early morning of Nov. 3 and hoisted atop the Atlas V. MSL was hoisted atop the payload transporter in the PHSF on Nov. 2 after being integrated into the Atlas V rocket payload fairing.

Curiosity 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.