GLAST's Journey to Launch

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GLAST's Journey to Launch
06.03.08
 
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A two-stage Delta II rocket is set to carry NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope to space -- beginning GLAST's mission to help further understand the mysteries of the universe.

In February, the rocket's two stages arrived separately at Hangar M at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where they were prepared for the launch pad by the vehicle's builder, United Launch Alliance.

The Delta II has proven to be a workhorse launch vehicle, and for the GLAST launch, the rocket will use nine strap-on solid rocket boosters.

Once the first stage was hoisted into place at Launch Pad 17-B, workers attached the boosters and the second stage.

In early March, the GLAST spacecraft arrived by truck at Astrotech's processing facility in Titusville, Florida -- located just across the Indian River from the Kennedy Space Center.

Built for NASA by General Dynamics in Arizona, technicians in Florida spent two months conducting the final prelaunch preparations of the spacecraft.

Tests included checking all of the spacecraft's communications -- control and data handling -- and propulsion systems.

In addition to a complete checkout of the craft's scientific instruments, workers installed the flight battery -- a communications antenna -- and two sets of solar arrays.

With testing completed, the spacecraft was fueled and placed into a transportation canister for delivery to the launch pad.

With the Delta II's first and second stages in place, the rocket was topped off by the spacecraft, which was then tucked inside a protective fairing.

The stage is now set -- the rocket and spacecraft are ready -- and soon the familiar 3 -- 2--1 -- liftoff will send GLAST spaceward to fulfill its mission.

From the NASA Kennedy Space Center, this is George Diller.

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