Status Report

NASA Spacecraft and Expendable Vehicles Status Report 25 Jun 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
June 25, 2003
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MISSION: Mars Exploration Rover (MER-B/Opportunity)

  • LAUNCH VEHICLE: Delta II Heavy
  • LAUNCH PAD:  17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
  • LAUNCH DATE:  June 28, 2003
  • LAUNCH TIME:  11: 56: 16 p.m. / 12: 37: 59 a.m. EDT

The Flight Readiness Review was held on June 21, and afterward, a decision was made to postpone the launch by at least a couple of days. Based on routine post-test inspections, the launch team elected to remove and replace a band of protective cork insulation on the Delta first stage that may not have been adhering properly. The location is below the forward attach points of the strap-on solid rocket boosters. Inspections of a second band located higher on the first stage showed that only minor work is necessary to assure that it is ready for launch.

All of the reapplication and repair of the cork insulation will be completed today. Normal countdown activities will then resume on Thursday, beginning with the fueling of the Delta second stage with its complement of storable hypergolic propellants. A countdown dress rehearsal will also be held on Thursday. The Launch Readiness Review will be held on Friday in the Mission Briefing Room at KSC.

The fairing was installed around the MER-B “Opportunity” spacecraft on June 21. Fairing closeouts will begin tonight. Integrated spacecraft/launch vehicle testing indicates that the flight systems are ready for launch.

At Pad 17-B on launch day, the mobile service tower will be retracted from around the Delta II about 3: 30 p.m. if weather permits. Options are available to retract the mobile service tower later if there are thunderstorms in the vicinity and still reach one or both of the two available launch times.   

Loading of the RP-1 fuel aboard the Delta first stage is nominally planned to begin at 9: 16 p.m. followed by loading of liquid oxygen at about 10: 06 p.m.                  

MISSION:  Scientific Satellite (SCISAT-1) Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment

  • LAUNCH FACILITY: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
  • LAUNCH DATE:  August 2, 2003
  • LAUNCH TIME:  9: 03: 05 p.m. – 10: 00: 14 p.m. PDT

Arrival of the SCISAT spacecraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base from the Canadian Space Agency’s David Florida Laboratories is scheduled to occur today. 

After arrival, the solar arrays will be mated to the vehicle, followed by spacecraft functional testing. SCISAT will be mated to the Pegasus on or about July 10. This will be followed by integrated testing. Installation of the fairing around the spacecraft is planned for July 21 and mating to the L-1011 carrier aircraft on July 30.

 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.   

Meanwhile, the Pegasus XL rocket is undergoing prelaunch preparations by Orbital Sciences Corporation at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Mating of the first and second stage is occurring this week. The second Flight Simulation is also being performed. 

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:   12: 37: 30 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 in early August.

The launch period extends to September 9.

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 and scientists look to orbiting telescopes. SIRTF will capture those 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.


SpaceRef staff editor.