Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
George Diller |
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
MISSION: Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Pegasus XL (Orbital Sciences Corporation)
LAUNCH DATE: TBD
LAUNCH WINDOW: TBD
In the Orbital Sciences Corporation hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., the Reaction Control System (RCS) on the Pegasus launch vehicle has been depressurized and the leaking gaseous nitrogen regulator was removed. The regulator was shipped on Jan. 28 to Orbital's plant in Dulles, Va., for analysis.
The leak was observed last week during testing of the RCS. This regulator is used to maintain proper pressure in the RCS during flight and is located within the forward portion of the Pegasus third stage. The DART spacecraft was removed from the Pegasus third stage on Jan. 25 to obtain access to the regulator. The spacecraft has been rotated to a vertical position, moved to a clean room and placed on a test stand.
The new launch date has not yet been determined. A revised schedule continues to be developed this week.
DART was designed and built for NASA by Orbital Sciences Corporation as an advanced flight demonstrator to locate and maneuver near an orbiting satellite. The DART spacecraft weighs about 800 pounds, is 6 feet long and 3 feet in diameter. The Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL vehicle will launch DART into a circular polar orbit of 475 miles. DART project management is the responsibility of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the NASA launch management is the responsibility of the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Services Program.
MISSION: NOAA-N (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Boeing Delta II 7320
LAUNCH PAD: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
LAUNCH DATE: March 19, 2005
LAUNCH WINDOW: 2:22:01 - 2:32:01 a.m. PST
In California, processing of the NOAA-N weather satellite continues on schedule in NASA spacecraft processing hangar 1610 located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Spacecraft Electrical Performance Test which was under way last week has been successfully completed. The Solar Array Illumination Telemetry Test is scheduled for Feb. 4. The final instrument inspections and associated instrument close-outs for flight will be performed Feb. 15-16. The spacecraft is currently scheduled to be taken to the launch pad to be mated with the Delta II rocket on Feb. 25.
At Space Launch Complex 2, preparations for launch are going well. The first power-on testing of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle began on Jan. 31 as scheduled. The Vehicle Guidance and Control Qualifications, which are tests of the Delta II guidance and control systems, are now planned for Feb. 4. The First Stage Liquid Oxygen "LOX" Leak Checks, a countdown test that involves loading liquid oxygen aboard the first stage and also serves as a countdown certification for the launch team, will be held next week on Feb. 10.
The build-up of the Boeing Delta II at the pad began on Jan. 12 with the erection of the first stage and interstage adapter. The three strap-on solid rocket boosters were attached to the vehicle on Jan. 17. The second stage was hoisted atop the first stage on Jan. 20.
After launch, NOAA-N will be renamed NOAA-18 and will provide measurements of the Earth's surface and atmosphere that will be entered into NOAA's weather forecasting models and used for other environmental studies. Each day, the satellite will send data to NOAA's Command and Data Acquisition station computers, adding vital information to forecasting models, especially over the oceans, where conventional data is lacking.
The spacecraft will be turned over from NASA to NOAA after on-orbit checkout is complete. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is responsible for NOAA-N project management. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. The Delta II launch service is provided by the Boeing Expendable Launch Systems Company. Launch management is the responsibility of the NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Services Program office.
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