Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

July 17, 2003
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Scientific Satellite-1/Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment
Launch Vehicle: Pegasus XL
Launch Location: Vandenberg Air Force Base
Launch Date: August 12, 2003
Launch Time: 7:04:07 p.m. / 8:01:24 p.m. PDT (T-0 drop time: 7:09 p.m.)

Spacecraft functional testing is underway this week. The solar arrays were mated to the spacecraft on July 11. The communications systems were also successfully checked out. The spacecraft transponder is powered on for run time as part of routine test and evaluation. SCISAT will be mated to the Pegasus launch vehicle on July 25. Fairing installation activities begin August 2. Installation onto the Pegasus transporter is scheduled for August 6 followed by rollout to the hot pad and mating to the L-1011 carrier aircraft on August 9.

Meanwhile, the third planned flight simulation for the Pegasus XL rocket was successfully completed yesterday, July 16.

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.

The scientific mission of SCISAT-1 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 policymakers assess existing environmental policy and develop protective measures for improving the health of our atmosphere, preventing further ozone 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 23, 2003
Launch Time: 1:37:43 a.m. EDT

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 on August 10. Observatory power-on testing was successfully completed last week. Installation of the flight battery followed by electrical testing is scheduled for July 22-23. Final electrical closeouts are scheduled for July 24-25.

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Pad 17-B will begin tomorrow, July 18, with the erection of the first stage. Erection of the nine solid rocket boosters is currently scheduled to occur in sets of three on July 19, 22 and 24. The second stage is planned for hoisting atop the first stage on July 28. The fairing will be hoisted into the launch pad clean room area on July 29.

SIRTF is the fourth and final element in NASA's family of orbiting "Great Observatories.” All objects in the universe with temperatures above absolute zero (-460 F) emit some infrared radiation, or heat. Infrared wavelengths lie beyond the red portion of the visible spectrum, and are invisible to the human eye.

Most infrared light emitted by celestial objects is absorbed by Earth's atmosphere. Scientists rely on orbiting telescopes such as SIRTF to capture data on celestial objects and phenomena that are too dim, distant or cool to study using ground-based telescopes or by other astronomical techniques.

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

The launch period extends to September 17.

Mission: Gravity Probe B
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Pad: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base
Launch Date: Nov. 13, 2003
Launch Time: 7:30 p.m. PST

Gravity Probe B arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base on July 11 from the Lockheed Martin plant in Sunnyvale, California. It was taken to NASA spacecraft processing hanger 1610 located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base. The spacecraft was unloaded from its transporter, placed onto an assembly and test stand and the soft shipping cover removed. Mechanical and electrical ground support equipment is being set up and the necessary connections made with the spacecraft. Battery charge/discharge cycles are underway as part of the battery conditioning process.

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 2 is currently scheduled to begin on September 15 with the erection of the first stage. Attachment of the nine strap-on solid rocket boosters in sets of three is scheduled for September 16 - 18. The second stage is planned for mating atop the first stage on September 19. Gravity Probe B will be transported from the spacecraft hangar to Space Launch Complex 2 on October 29 and hoisted atop the second stage. The Delta II fairing will be installed around the spacecraft on November 5 as part of final preparations for launch.

Gravity Probe B is a relativity experiment developed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Stanford University and Lockheed Martin. The spacecraft will test two extraordinary predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity that he advanced in 1916. Gravity Probe B consists of four sophisticated gyroscopes to be launched into a 400-mile-high orbit for a mission lasting 18 to 24 months.

Status reports are available at:


- end -

text-only version of this release

To receive status reports and news releases issued from the Kennedy Space Center Newsroom electronically, send a blank e-mail message to To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail message to The system will confirm your request via e-mail.