Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Feb. 27, 2003
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Galaxy Evolution Explorer
Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL
Launch Pad: Skid Strip, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: March 25, 2003 (Tentative)
Launch Window: 6:50 - 8:50 a.m. EST (Drop time 7:00 a.m.)

The Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft with the Pegasus launch vehicle arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 18. The following day, it was demated from the L-1011 and transported to the Multipurpose Payload Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, arriving there at 8 p.m.

The payload fairing was removed on Feb. 21. A flight simulation was performed the following day. An Interface Verification Test (IVT) involving the launch vehicle and the GALEX spacecraft was performed on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Another Flight Simulation is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 28.

GALEX will be mated to the Pegasus vehicle on March 5 and then transported to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on March 21 for mating to the Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft.

The GALEX program management is by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and is part of Goddard's Small Explorer (SMEX) program. Spacecraft project management is the responsibility of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the California Institute of Technology is the lead for mission science.

Mission: Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Pad: Pad 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: March 29, 2003 (Under review)
Launch Time: 5:00 p.m. EST

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Pad 17-A was completed late last week and testing is currently under way. ProSEDS is flying as a secondary payload on the Delta II beneath a U.S. Air Force Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite.

Once the spacecraft arrives on Saturday, March 1, it will be processed in the Vertical Processing Facility (VPF) located in the KSC Industrial Area. While there, the final spacecraft component integration will occur, a complete functional test will be performed, and the spacecraft batteries will be charged for the mission. On March 17, ProSEDS will be transported to the launch pad and attached to the Delta II near the top of the second stage. This will be followed by electrical connections and a second spacecraft functional test.

At this time, a review is under way to assess whether ProSEDS should be flown on the GPS 2R-9 launch opportunity.

The Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System - called ProSEDS - is a tether-based propulsion experiment that draws power from the space environment around Earth, allowing the transfer of energy from the Earth to the spacecraft.

Inexpensive and reusable, ProSEDS technology has the potential to turn orbiting, in-space tethers into "space tugboats" - replacing heavy, costly, traditional chemical propulsion and enabling a variety of space-based missions, such as the fuel-free raising and lowering of satellite orbits.

Mission: Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Launch Vehicle: Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: April 15, 2003
Launch Time: 4:34:07 a.m. EDT

The SIRTF spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at Kennedy Space Center March 6. It will be shipped from the Lockheed Martin plant at Sunnyvale, Calif.

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Pad 17-B began on Monday, Feb. 24 with the erection of the first stage. Erection of the nine solid rocket boosters is now under way and will continue through March 3. The second stage is planned for hoisting atop the first stage on March 5.

The Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) will obtain images and spectra by detecting the infrared energy, or heat, radiated by objects in space between wavelengths of 3 and 180 microns (1 micron is one-millionth of a meter). Most of this infrared radiation is blocked by the Earth's atmosphere and cannot be observed from the ground.

Consisting of an 0.85-meter telescope and three cryogenically cooled science instruments, SIRTF is one of NASA's largest infrared telescopes to be launched. Its highly sensitive instruments will give us a unique view of the Universe and allow us to peer into regions of space that are hidden from optical telescopes on the ground or orbiting telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Many areas of space are filled with vast, dense clouds of gas and dust that block our view. Infrared light can penetrate these clouds, allowing us to peer into regions of star formation, the centers of galaxies, and into newly forming planetary systems. Infrared also brings us information about the cooler objects in space, such as smaller stars that are too dim to be detected by their visible light, extra solar planets, and giant molecular clouds. Also, many molecules in space, including organic molecules, have their unique signatures in the infrared.

Mission: Mars Exploration Rovers
Launch Vehicle: Delta II/Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: 17-A/17-B
Launch Date: May 30/June 25
Launch Time: 2:28 p.m. / 12:34 p.m. EDT

The first of two Mars Exploration Rovers, MER-2, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Monday from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The cruise stage, aeroshell and lander for the Mars Exploration Rover-1 mission also arrived with it. This same flight hardware for the MER-2 rover arrived Jan. 27. However, this rover is scheduled to arrive at KSC around March 10.

The Boeing Delta II vehicle for the first of the two launches, scheduled on May 30, is planned for erection on the pad at Space Launch Complex 17 beginning April 18. The Delta for the second launch on June 25 will begin erection activities on May 1.

While at KSC, each of the two rovers, the aeroshells and the landers will undergo a full mission simulation. All of these flight elements will then be integrated together. After spin balance testing, each spacecraft will be mated to a solid propellant upper stage booster that will propel the spacecraft out of Earth orbit. Approximately ten days before launch, they will be transported to the launch pad for mating with their respective Boeing Delta II rockets.

The rovers will serve as robotic geologists to seek answers about the evolution of Mars, particularly for a history of water.

Status reports are available at:


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