Status Report

NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report 31 August 2011

By SpaceRef Editor
August 31, 2011
Filed under , , ,

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 Times: 8:37:06 a.m. and 9:16:12 a.m. EDT

GRAIL was moved from the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville to Pad 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Aug. 18 and hoisted atop the Delta II rocket. The encapsulation into the payload fairing was performed on Aug. 23. Wednesday, the spacecraft was powered on for final testing.

Also on Wednesday, the Flight Readiness Review was held and at its conclusion a tentative “go” was given for fueling the Delta II rocket Sept. 1 and 2.

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: 2:48:01 a.m. – 2:57:11 a.m. PDT (9 min., 10 sec.)
Orbital Altitude: 512 miles

The NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Aug. 30 as scheduled. Removal of the satellite from its environmentally controlled shipping container now is under way.

At Space Launch Complex 2, the Delta II rocket first stage was hoisted into position on the pad July 20. The nine solid rocket boosters were attached between July 28 and Aug. 1. The second stage was hoisted atop the first stage on Aug. 2. Testing of the launch vehicle continues.

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 Kennedy Space Center, functional testing of Curiosity is finished. Work has been completed to stow the rover’s components, including the remote sensing mast, robotic arm, wheels and mobility system. The rover has now been rotated to wheels up in preparation for integration with the other Mars Science Laboratory components.

The Atlas V rocket for the mission is at the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Atlas and Centaur stages are undergoing initial checkout before being transported to Launch Complex 41. The Atlas stage will be transported to the Vertical Integration Facility on Sept. 8 and followed by the Centaur on Sept. 9. This is 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.