Status Report

NASA Mars Rover “Opportunity: Targeted for Launch June 28

By SpaceRef Editor
June 24, 2003
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The second of two Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity, is targeted
for launch on Saturday, June 28 at 11:56:16 p.m. EDT. Liftoff will occur
aboard the Boeing Delta II Heavy launch vehicle from Pad B at Space Launch
Complex 17 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A second launch opportunity
exists at 12:37:59 a.m. EDT, if necessary. Should launch be delayed by 24
hours, the two launch times available are 11:46:14 p.m. and 12:28:07 a.m.
EDT. The window of the planetary launch period extends through July 15.

Opportunity will reach Mars on Jan. 25, 2004. Together the two MER
rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, seek to determine the history of climate and
water at two sites on Mars where conditions may once have been favorable to
life. The rovers are identical. Each rover carries five scientific
instruments including a panoramic camera and microscope, plus a rock
abrasion tool that will grind away the outer surfaces of rocks to expose
their interiors for examination. The rovers each weigh approximately 400
pounds. They will navigate themselves around obstacles as they drive across
the Martian surface, traveling up to about 130 feet each Martian day. Each
rover’s prime mission is planned to last three months on Mars.


The prelaunch press conference is scheduled for L-1 day, Friday,
June 27 at 1 p.m. EDT in the KSC News Center auditorium and will be carried
live on NASA Television. Participating in the briefing will be:

Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator, Office of Space Science

NASA Headquarters

Omar Baez, NASA launch director

NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center

Kris Walsh, Boeing director for NASA programs

Boeing Expendable Launch Systems

Peter Theisinger, Mars Exploration Rover project manager

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Cathy Weitz, Mars Exploration Rover program scientist

NASA Headquarters

Dr. Steve Squyers, Mars Exploration Rover principal investigator

Cornell University

Joel Tumbiolo, launch weather officer

45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

No post-launch press conference will be held.


Media not already accredited for the MER-B/Opportunity prelaunch
press conference and launch day activities should send a letter of request
to the NASA-KSC News Center on news organization letterhead. It should
include full legal name, Social Security number, birth date, birthplace and
country of citizenship. Accreditation requests must be received by the
close of business on Thursday, June 26. Letters may be faxed to
321-867-2692 or addressed to:

MER-B Launch Accreditation


Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

For further information on MER-B launch accreditation, contact Diana Boles
or Cynthia Pettiford at the NASA-KSC News Center at 321-867-2468.

Badges for access to the NASA-KSC News Center may be obtained at
Gate 3 on State Road 405, just east of U.S. 1 south of Titusville through
Friday, June 27 between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Badges issued for MER-A are not

On launch day, June 28, badges to cover the MER-B launch from the Trident
Bluff press viewing area will be issued to all media starting at 10:30 p.m.
at the Pass and Identification Building on State Road 401 outside Gate 1 of
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Proof of identification and news media
affiliation will be required. Departure for the Trident Bluff press viewing
area will be at 10:45 p.m. After launch, media will be escorted back to
Gate 1. An escort is required for all areas of the Kennedy Space Center and
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.


Media wishing to establish remote cameras at the launch pad should
meet at the Gate 1 Pass and Identification Building of Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station on State Road 401 on Friday, June 27, at 9:45 a.m. to be
escorted to Space Launch Complex 17.


A photo opportunity at Space Launch Complex 17 of the MER-B launch
vehicle on the pad will be provided on Saturday afternoon upon rollback of
the mobile service tower. Media wishing to attend should be at the Gate 1
Pass and Identification Building of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on
State Road 401 at 3 p.m.


The NASA-KSC News Center will not open on Saturday, June 28 until launch
occurs. It will then remain open until the spacecraft’s complete state of
health can be confirmed. This information is anticipated about two and one
half hours after liftoff.


NASA Television will carry the prelaunch press conference beginning
at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 27. Two-way question-and-answer capability will
be available from other NASA field centers. There will not be a post-launch
press conference.

For launch, commentary will begin at 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 28
for a liftoff at 11:56:16 p.m. Coverage will conclude after acquisition of
the spacecraft by the Deep Space Network no earlier than one hour forty
minutes after launch, at which time the spacecraft’s initial state of health
will be reported.

NASA Television is available on satellite AMC-2, transponder 9C,
located at 85 degrees West longitude.

Audio only of NASA Television coverage of the prelaunch news
conference and launch commentary will be available on the “V” circuits which
may be dialed directly at 321/867-1220, 867-1240, 867-1260, 867-7135.

The NASA-KSC News Center codaphone carries recorded MER-B prelaunch status
reports daily that may be dialed at 321-867-2525.


The Kennedy Space Center’s Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) coverage will
include special webcasts on NASA Direct!

For more information on the MER-B/Opportunity web activities, go to

For a detailed NASA Direct! event calendar, go to:

Information about the MER missions is available online at:

SpaceRef staff editor.