Status Report

NASA Spacecraft and Expendable Vehicles Status Report 11 Jul 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
July 13, 2003
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MISSION: Scientific Satellite (SCISAT-1) Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment

  • LAUNCH FACILITY: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
  • LAUNCH DATE: August 12, 2003
  • LAUNCH TIME: 7:05:47 p.m. – 8:02:56 p.m. PDT (T-0 drop time: 7:11 p.m.)

Spacecraft functional testing is underway this week. The solar arrays are being attached to the spacecraft today. The communications systems are also being checked out. Pending a successful readiness review, SCISAT will be mated to the Pegasus launch vehicle on July 25.

Meanwhile, the Pegasus XL rocket is undergoing prelaunch preparations by Orbital Sciences Corporation at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Mating of the first stage to the second stage was completed June 24. Mating of the second stage to the third stage was completed the following day on June 25. The second Flight Simulation was completed as planned on Wednesday, July 2. The third Flight Simulation is scheduled for next week on Tuesday, July 15.

SCISAT-1 weighs approximately 330 pounds and will be placed in a 400-mile-high polar orbit to investigate processes that control the distribution of ozone in the upper atmosphere.

The scientific mission of SCISAT-1 is to measure and understand the chemical processes that control the distribution of ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere, particularly at high altitudes. The data from the satellite will provide Canadian and international scientists with improved measurements relating to global ozone processes and help policymakers assess existing environmental policy and develop protective measures for improving the health of our atmosphere, preventing further ozone depletion. The mission is designed to last two years.

MISSION: Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF)

  • LAUNCH VEHICLE: Delta II Heavy
  • LAUNCH PAD: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
  • LAUNCH DATE: August 23, 2003
  • LAUNCH TIME: 1:37:43 a.m. EDT

The SIRTF observatory is in NASA’s class 10,000 laminar flow clean room at spacecraft Hangar AE awaiting its return to the launch pad on August 10. Observatory power-on testing resumed this week. Installation of the flight battery followed by the associated electrical testing is scheduled for July 21-22.

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Pad 17-B will begin next week on Thursday, July 17 with the erection of the first stage. Erection of the nine solid rocket boosters is currently scheduled to occur in sets of three on July 19, 22 and 24. The second stage is planned for hoisting atop the first stage on July 28.

SIRTF is the fourth and final element in NASA’s family of orbiting “Great Observatories.” All objects in the universe with temperatures above absolute zero (-460 F) emit some infrared radiation, or heat. Infrared wavelengths lie beyond the red portion of the visible spectrum, and are invisible to the human eye.

Most infrared light emitted by celestial objects is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists rely on orbiting telescopes such as SIRTF to capture data on celestial objects and phenomena that are too dim, distant or cool to study using ground-based telescopes or by other astronomical techniques.

Project management of SIRTF for NASA is by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The observatory was built for NASA by Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace.

The launch period extends to September 9.

MISSION: Gravity Probe B (GP-B)

  • LAUNCH PAD: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • LAUNCH DATE: November 13, 2003
  • LAUNCH TIME: 7:30 p.m. PST

Gravity Probe B arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base last night from the Lockheed Martin plant in Sunnyvale, California. Today it was taken to NASA spacecraft processing hanger 1610 located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Upcoming operations entail unloading the spacecraft from its transporter and placing it onto an assembly and test stand. Mechanical and electrical ground support equipment will then be set up and necessary connections made with the spacecraft. Spacecraft battery conditioning will also begin.

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 2 is currently scheduled to begin on September 15 with the erection of the first stage. Attachment of the nine strap-on solid rocket boosters in sets of three is scheduled for September 16 – 18. The second stage is planned for mating atop the first stage on September 19. Gravity Probe B will be transported from the spacecraft hangar to Space Launch Complex 2 on October 29 and hoisted atop the second stage. The Delta II fairing will be installed around the spacecraft on November 5 as part of final preparations for launch.

Gravity Probe B is a relativity experiment developed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Stanford University and Lockheed Martin. The spacecraft will test two unverified predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity that he advanced in 1916. Gravity Probe B consists of four sophisticated gyroscopes to be launched into a 400-mile-high orbit for a mission lasting 18 to 24 months.

SpaceRef staff editor.