Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Aug. 27, 2003
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Launch Vehicle: Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: Aug. 25, 2003
Launch Time: 1:35:39 a.m. EDT

NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) was successfully launched on Monday, August 25, 2003, at 1:35:39.231 a.m. EDT.

SIRTF is the fourth and final spacecraft in NASA's family of orbiting "Great Observatories."

Mission: Gravity Probe B
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Pad: SLC-2W, Vandenberg Air Force Base
Launch Date: Nov. 13, 2003
Launch Time: 7:22:26 p.m. PST

Gravity Probe B is at NASA spacecraft processing hangar 1610 on North Vandenberg Air Force Base. In processing activities this week, the electromagnetic interference (EMI) test has been successfully completed. The Gas Management Assembly (GMA) "rate of rise" testing is under way and is successful to date with three days of the test remaining. Certification testing of the pump module in preparation for conditioning the dewar was successfully completed. The dewar conditioning, a process of pumping down the tank to near vacuum conditions, is currently under way. Initial servicing to load the dewar 95 percent full of cryogenic liquid helium is scheduled to begin next week. The spacecraft is currently on internal power and a trickle charge of the battery is occurring. Loading of an updated version of the mission software is pending.

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 2 remains scheduled to begin on Sept. 15 with the erection of the first stage. Attachment of the nine strap-on solid rocket boosters in sets of three is scheduled for Sept. 17-19. The second stage is planned for mating atop the first stage on Sept. 22. Gravity Probe B will be transported from the spacecraft hangar to Space Launch Complex 2 on Oct. 29 and hoisted atop the second stage. The Delta II fairing will be installed around the spacecraft on Nov. 5 as part of final preparations for launch.

Gravity Probe B arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base on July 11 from the Lockheed Martin plant in Sunnyvale, Calif.

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 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.