Status Report

NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report 7 April 2005

By SpaceRef Editor
April 7, 2005
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MISSION: Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Pegasus XL (Orbital Sciences Corporation)
LAUNCH DATE: April 15, 2005

In the Orbital Sciences Corporation hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, DART has been re-mated to the Pegasus launch vehicle and fairing reinstallation will be completed today.

Flight Simulation 4A was completed on April 1 as scheduled with a nominal outcome. The Flight Readiness Review will occur later this week. The Launch Readiness Review, the final review to be held, is set to occur one day before launch.

All Pegasus launch vehicle and DART spacecraft issues have been resolved. The Orbital Sciences L-1011 aircraft arrives at Vandenberg Air Force Base today. The Pegasus will be integrated with the Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft late this week. A Combined Systems Test of the Pegasus/DART/L-1011 combination will be conducted over the weekend. A launch countdown and mission dress rehearsal is scheduled for early next week.

At this time, there are no issues or concerns and launch is on schedule for April 15.

DART was designed and built for NASA by Orbital Sciences Corporation as an advanced flight demonstrator to locate and maneuver near an orbiting satellite. The DART spacecraft weighs about 800 pounds, and is 6 feet long and 3 feet in diameter. The Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL vehicle will launch DART into a circular polar orbit of 475 miles. DART project management is the responsibility of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the NASA launch management is the responsibility of the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Services Program.

MISSION: NOAA-N (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Boeing Delta II 7320
LAUNCH PAD: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
LAUNCH DATE: May 11, 2005
LAUNCH WINDOW: 3:21:01 – 3:31:01 a.m. PDT

At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, replacement of a faulty S-band transmitter on NOAA-N has been completed and the satellite was successfully retested. The spacecraft batteries have been discharged in preparation for its two-day installation into the transportation canister during the third week of April, followed by the trip to nearby Space Launch Complex 2.

At the pad, preparations for launch of the Boeing Delta II are going well and there are no issues or concerns. The next major milestone, which occurs next week, is the loading of the first stage with liquid oxygen to check for leaks. The launch team will also conduct a countdown and recycle exercise as part of crew certification required for launch. To follow, a Simulated Flight will be conducted. This is an electrical test that ensures all flight systems of the Delta II are operational and that the vehicle is ready for NOAA-N to be mated to the rocket.

The final milestone is the Flight Program Verification at the end of April, an integrated test to verify the capability of the Delta II and NOAA-N to operate in unison during launch. Upon successful completion of this test, the fairing can be installed around the spacecraft. This is scheduled to occur the first week of May.

At this time, there are no issues or concerns and launch is on schedule for May 11.

After launch, NOAA-N will be renamed NOAA-18 and will provide measurements of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere that will be entered into NOAA’s weather forecasting models and used for other environmental studies. Each day, the satellite will send data to NOAA’s Command and Data Acquisition station computers, adding vital information to forecasting models, especially over the oceans, where conventional data is lacking.

The spacecraft will be turned over from NASA to NOAA after on-orbit checkout is complete. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is responsible for NOAA-N project management. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. The Delta II launch service is provided by the Boeing Expendable Launch Systems Company. Launch management is the responsibility of the NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Services Program office.

SpaceRef staff editor.