Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

May 21, 2003
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Mars Exploration Rover (MER-A vehicle/MER-2 rover)
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Location: Pad 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: June 5, 2003
Launch Time: 2:16:00 p.m. / 2:55:29 p.m. EDT

Three days of spin balance testing of MER-2 is scheduled to conclude today. The spacecraft was fueled on May 11. The Delta third stage, the upper stage that will propel the spacecraft on an interplanetary trajectory, arrived at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) yesterday, Tuesday, May 20. MER-2 will be mated to the third stage on Friday, May 23. On Saturday, work will begin to install the spacecraft into the transportation canister in preparation for going to the launch pad next Tuesday, May 27.

MER-2 aboard the MER-A Delta II launch vehicle will have two launch opportunities each day during the launch period that closes on June 19. Arrival at Mars is set for Jan 4, 2004, regardless of the launch date within that period.

On Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the Simulated Flight Test (SimFlight) that includes a checkout of the launch vehicle's avionics system and electrical system is under way today.

The Delta first stage for MER-A was erected on Pad 17-A on April 23. The second stage erection was completed on April 28, and the fairing was installed in the white room on April 30. The solid rocket booster erection began on May 13 with the first set of three motors being attached to the first stage. The second set of three was erected on May 14, and the final set was hoisted into position on May 15.

Mission: Mars Exploration Rover (MER-B vehicle/MER-1 rover)
Launch Vehicle: Delta II Heavy
Launch Location: Pad 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: June 25, 2003
Launch Time: 12:38:16 a.m. / 1:19:19 a.m. EDT

The MER-1 lander was mated to the cruise stage yesterday, May 20. Fueling of MER-1 is scheduled for May 27-28, spin balance testing on May 29, mating to the Delta third stage on June 14, and transportation to the launch pad for mating to the Delta on June 15.

The MER-B vehicle's first stage is on Pad 17-B. Erecting the nine solid rocket boosters in sets of three a day began yesterday, May 20. The second set of three is being erected today and the final set will be installed tomorrow, May 22. The second stage will be hoisted atop the first stage on May 28.

The MER-B launch period closes July 15.

Mission: SCISAT-1/Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment
Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base
Launch Date: No earlier than July 25, 2003
Launch Time: 10:36:55 p.m. / 11:34:04 p.m. PDT

The SCISAT spacecraft is completing final testing at the Canadian Space Agency's David Florida Laboratories. The pre-ship review prior to transportation of the spacecraft to Vandenberg Air Force Base is to be held near the end of the month. It is currently scheduled to arrive at Vandenberg on June 19.

SCISAT-1 weighs approximately 330 pounds and will be placed in a 400-mile-high polar orbit to investigate processes that control the distribution of ozone in the upper atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the Pegasus XL rocket is undergoing prelaunch preparations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by Orbital Sciences Corporation.

The scientific mission of SCISAT-1/ACE (Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment) mission is to measure and understand the chemical processes that control the distribution of ozone in the Earth's atmosphere, particularly at high altitudes. The data from the satellite will provide Canadian and international scientists with improved measurements relating to global ozone processes and help policy makers assess existing environmental policy and develop protective measures for improving the health of our atmosphere, preventing further zone depletion. The mission is designed to last two years.

Mission: Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Launch Vehicle: Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: August 27, 2003
Launch Time: TBD

The SIRTF observatory is in NASA's class 10,000 laminar flow clean room at spacecraft Hangar AE awaiting its return to the launch pad, currently anticipated to occur in mid-August.

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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