Status Report

NASA Spacecraft and Expendable Launch Vehicles Status Report 20 May 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
May 20, 2004
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LAUNCH PAD:  SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base

LAUNCH DATE:  June 19, 2004

LAUNCH TIME:  6:01:50 a.m. – 9:04:50 a.m. EDT (3:01:50 – 3:04:50 a.m. PDT)

NASA’s Aura spacecraft, the latest in the Earth Observing System (EOS) series, is at the Astrotech payload processing facility located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Fueling of the spacecraft was completed May 14.  The next major activity is the mating to the payload attach fitting, the interface with the Delta II, scheduled to occur on May 24.  Transportation of the spacecraft to Space Launch Complex 2 for mating to the second stage of the Delta II is scheduled for June 2.

The build-up of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Space Launch Complex 2, located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base, has been completed.  The first stage was stacked April 29 and the second stage May 1.  Work to install the nine solid rocket boosters was completed May 5.  A vehicle control system check was successfully completed Monday.  This procedure qualifies the first and second stage subsystems through a series of detailed tests.  The first stage leak check is scheduled for Friday.  It will include a simulated countdown and the loading of liquid oxygen aboard the first stage.  A Simulated Flight test of the vehicle’s electrical and mechanical systems will follow on May 24.

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 John F. 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 continues.  This verifies MESSENGER’s ability to operate on its own when not in direct contact with Earth.  Installation of thermal blankets has been completed as required by the schedule up to this time.  In upcoming work, the flight battery is scheduled for installation June 8 and the solar arrays will be installed June 22.

The review to assess readiness to begin stacking the Boeing Delta II rocket on Pad 17-B was successfully completed Wednesday.  The work begins June 18 with the first stage.

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.