Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

May 5, 2003
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Galaxy Evolution Explorer
Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL
Launch Location: Skid Strip, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: April 28, 2003

The launch of NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) air-launched Pegasus vehicle occurred on schedule on Monday, April 28 at 8 a.m. EDT.

The launch began with the departure of the L-1011 aircraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:03 a.m. The drop of the Pegasus rocket from the L-1011 occurred over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet at a location approximately 100 nautical miles offshore east-northeast of Cape Canaveral. A nominal spacecraft separation from Pegasus occurred 11 minutes later. At that time the satellite was in a circular orbit of 430 statute miles (690 km) at a 29-degree inclination. Shortly thereafter, spacecraft acquisition occurred by the TDRS-West Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, followed by tracking stations on the ground in Australia and Hawaii that were able to confirm the GALEX telescope was in a good state of health.

GALEX continues to operate satisfactorily and spacecraft checkout of GALEX is underway.

GALEX will observe a million galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic history to help astronomers determine when the stars and galaxies we see today had their origins. The spacecraft will make the first ultraviolet scan of the whole sky beyond the Milky Way galaxy.

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 Vehicles: Delta II / Delta II Heavy
Launch Pads: Pads 17-A / 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Dates: June 5 / June 25
Launch Times: 2:56:59 p.m. / 12:38:16 a.m. EDT

The reworked telecom support boards (TSB) have been installed on both MER landers. MER-2 lander integration was completed on Thursday, April 24. Integration of the MER-2 entry vehicle (back shell, heat shield, lander and rover assembly) has been completed. Last week the spacecraft had a weight and center of gravity determination followed by a dry-spin test. Fueling is planned for May 11 and will be followed by another spin test once fuel is aboard.

On MER-1, rover installation onto the base petal has been completed and the lander's air bag installation is scheduled for this week.

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 the launch date within that period.

On Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, first stage was erected on Wednesday, April 23, for MER-A on Pad 17-A. Second stage erection was completed on Monday, April 28, and fairing on April 30. Simulated Flight and Engine Sequence is currently scheduled for May 9. The solid motor erection is scheduled for May 14-16. For MER-B on Pad 17-B, the solid rocket boosters will be erected May 19-24; the second stage will be hoisted atop the first stage on May 28.

Mission: Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Launch Vehicle: Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: No earlier than late August
Launch Time: TBD

At Pad 17-B, the SIRTF observatory was removed from atop the Delta II rocket about mid-evening on Friday, May 2, and was taken back to NASA Spacecraft Hangar AE during the overnight hours.

Work is underway today to remove the Delta second stage. Next to be removed will be five of the solid rocket boosters, two of which have the delamination concern and the three others because of the amount of time remaining in their shelf life. The four remaining boosters and the Delta first stage will be used by MER-B.

SIRTF will remain in the clean room at Hangar AE until it returns to the pad in early August. The launch of SIRTF is currently planned to occur on Wednesday, August 27.

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

Status reports are available at:


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