Status Report

NASA Spacecraft and Expendable Launch Vehicles Status Report 17 Jun 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
June 17, 2004
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LAUNCH PAD:  SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base

LAUNCH DATE:  NET July 8, 2004

LAUNCH TIME:  6:01:57 a.m. – 6:04:57 a.m. EDT (3:01:57 – 3:04:57 a.m. PDT)

The launch of NASA’s Aura spacecraft, the latest in the Earth Observing System (EOS) series, has been tentatively rescheduled for no earlier than July 8.  During testing of the Delta II launch vehicle on the pad at Space Launch Complex 2, a helium leak was observed in the second stage fuel tank shutoff valve.  It was removed and replaced on June 11.  The retesting was successfully completed Tuesday.  An engineering review board must complete failure analysis of the valve that was removed.

The spacecraft is at the Astrotech payload processing facility located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and the spacecraft’s batteries are currently being charged.  It is ready to be moved to Space Launch Complex 2 on Friday pending closure of open items which are under review. There will be an Aura state-of-health check on Monday, June 21, with the spacecraft atop the Delta II.

The Flight Program Verification, an integrated test involving the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle and the Aura spacecraft, is scheduled to occur on June 24.  The Flight Readiness Review is planned for July 1.

Aura’s four state-of-the-art instruments will study the dynamics of chemistry occurring in the atmosphere.  The spacecraft will provide data to help scientists better understand the Earth’s ozone, air quality and climate change.

The EOS Aura satellite, instruments and science investigations are managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.  Government oversight of launch preparations and the countdown management on launch day is the responsibility of the NASA Launch Services Program based at Kennedy Space Center.  The launch service is provided to NASA by Boeing Launch Services.



LAUNCH PAD: 17-B  Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

LAUNCH DATE:  July 30, 2004

LAUNCH WINDOW:  2:17:44 a.m. – 2:17:56 a.m. EDT

MESSENGER is undergoing prelaunch testing at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near Kennedy Space Center.

Autonomy testing of the spacecraft has been successfully completed.  This verifies MESSENGER’s ability to operate on its own when not in direct contact with Earth.  Installation of thermal blankets continues.

The two solar arrays will be installed June 23 -24 and deployment tests conducted.  Spacecraft propellant loading is currently scheduled for June 28 – July 2.  Spacecraft spin balance testing is planned for July 7 and mating to the upper stage booster will occur July 12.  The spacecraft will leave Astrotech for Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 16 and be mated to the Delta II rocket at Pad 17-B.  Meanwhile, stacking of the launch vehicle on the pad is currently planned to begin on June 26, one week after the launch of the Delta II carrying the Air Force Global Positioning Satellite is currently scheduled to occur.

There are no technical issues or concerns with MESSENGER or its associated Delta II at this time.

The launch period for MESSENGER extends through Aug. 13.

MESSENGER was built for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

SpaceRef staff editor.