Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

April 14, 2003
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Launch Vehicle: Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: Pad 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: April 27, 2003
Launch Time: 4:25:01 a.m. EDT

It has been determined that additional time is needed to complete launch readiness evaluations for the Delta II launch vehicle prior to holding the Flight Readiness Review. Therefore, the launch of SIRTF is being rescheduled to occur on April 27, 2003, at 4:25:01 a.m. EDT.

On April 10 at Pad 17-B, the Delta II payload fairing was installed around the SIRTF spacecraft. Servicing of the observatory with cryogenic helium will begin next week.

SIRTF was transported from Hangar AE to launch pad 17-B and mated to the Boeing Delta II rocket on Saturday, April 5. An interface verification test to assure that electrical and mechanical connections have been properly established was successfully completed on Sunday, April 6. This was followed by a successful spacecraft state of health check.

A flight simulation to test the vehicle's systems that will operate during powered flight was completed April 3. An RP-1 leak check of the first stage that involves loading of the highly refined kerosene fuel was completed April 4. The Flight Program Verification, an integrated test of the vehicle and the spacecraft that is the final major test before launch, was successfully completed April 7.

Project management of SIRTF for NASA is by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The observatory is built by Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace.

Mission: Galaxy Evolution Explorer
Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL
Launch Pad: Skid Strip, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: TBD
Launch Window: TBD

Processing of GALEX began its conclusion with the encapsulation of the GALEX spacecraft on Sunday, April 13, with the starboard fairing. The activity finished today with installation of the port fairing.

Because SIRTF will now take the GALEX launch opportunity, a new launch date for GALEX has not been identified. However, it is expected to be approximately one week after the launch of SIRTF.

GALEX was re-mated to the Pegasus on Monday, April 7, followed by a flight simulation on Wednesday, April 9. The GALEX/Pegasus will be transported to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and mated to the L-1011 about four days before launch. An integrated test, the Combined Systems Test (CST), will follow.

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: Mars Exploration Rovers
Launch Vehicle: Delta II/Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: 17-A/17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: June 6 / June 25
Launch Time: 2:12:44 p.m. / 12:38:16 a.m. EDT

The beginning of the launch period for the first of NASA's two Mars Exploration Rover missions will be rescheduled until no earlier than June 6 to allow time to address a potential problem raised during pre-launch tests of the spacecraft over the weekend.

The concern regards cabling that connects the spacecraft's main computer, which is inside the rover, to peripherals in the cruise stage, lander and small deep space transponder. The connection to the cruise stage is severed during approach to Mars and the connection to the lander is severed before the rover drives off. Pre-launch testing revealed a potential problem in how the spacecraft interprets signals sent when the cables are severed. The problem will require fixing on both rovers. The work is not expected to effect the launch period for the second rover mission which is scheduled to open June 25 and close July 15 for a landing Jan. 25, 2004. However, the second mission cannot launch until 10 days after the first one.

The remedy will require some disassembly of the spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla. The work cannot be done within the schedule of preparations for the original May 30 opening of the launch period. The mission will have two launch opportunities each day during the launch period, which is scheduled to close on June 19. Arrival at Mars is set for Jan. 4, 2003, regardless of launch date within that period.

On Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, first and second stage processing activities for the MER-A vehicle continues in Hangar AO and erection on Pad 17-A is planned to begin April 22. Erection of the vehicle for MER-B is planned to begin May 24.

Status reports are available at:


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