Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
NEAR SPACECRAFT ARRIVES TO BEGIN LAUNCH PREPARATIONS
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft arrived at Cape Canaveral today aboard a C-5 military aircraft. It is scheduled for launch early next year aboard a McDonnell Douglas Delta II rocket from Launch Complex 17. The 1,800-pound spacecraft was designed and built at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. NEAR is part of NASA’s Discovery program for lower cost space exploration missions.
NEAR will rendezvous in 1999 with the near-Earth asteroid Eros. Twenty-five miles long, Eros was the first near-Earth asteroid discovered in 1898. NEAR will orbit the asteroid for a year-long mission and will conduct the first long-term, close-up look at an asteroid’s surface composition and physical properties.
After its arrival this morning, NEAR was taken to NASA Spacecraft Hangar AE on Cape Canaveral Air Station to begin final testing and checkout activities including compatibility testing with the Deep Space Network of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Spacecraft checks will continue until Jan. 19, 1996, when it will be transported to NASA’s Spacecraft and Assembly and Encapsulation Facility-2 (SAEF-2) at the Kennedy Space Center. There the spacecraft will be fueled, the batteries installed, and the solar arrays attached. On Feb. 1, it will be mated to the Delta third stage, also at SAEF-2 for spin balance testing.
The NEAR/Delta II third stage combination will be transported from SAEF-2 to pad B at Launch Complex 17 on Feb. 12 where it will be mated to the second stage of the rocket. Finally, after integrated testing, the Delta nose fairing will be installed around the spacecraft on Feb. 12.
The launch of Delta/NEAR is targeted to occur at the beginning of a 16-day launch opportunity, which starts on Friday, Feb. 16, at 3:53 p.m. There is a daily launch window of 20 seconds.
Status reports are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/status/index.html
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