Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

May 13, 2004
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Aura
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Pad: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base
Launch Date: June 19, 2004
Launch Window: 6:01:50 a.m. - 9:04:50 a.m. EDT (3:01:50 a.m. - 3:04:50 a.m. PDT)

NASA's Aura spacecraft, the latest in the Earth Observing System (EOS) series, is at the Astrotech payload processing facility on North VAFB. Calif. The spacecraft propulsion system testing was completed. Fueling of the spacecraft is happening today. Spacecraft mate to the payload attach fitting (PAF) is scheduled to occur on May 24.

The assembly of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Space Launch Complex 2, on North VAFB, began on April 29 with the stacking of the first stage. The payload fairing was hoisted into the tower on April 30. The second stage was hoisted atop the first stage on May 1. Installation of the nine solid rocket boosters was completed May 5. The Boeing PAF preparation for flight installation continues.

The first power-on testing was completed on May 11. A vehicle control check is scheduled to occur on May 17. This procedure qualifies the first and second stage subsystems through a series of detailed tests. The first stage leak check, scheduled for May 21, will include a simulated countdown and the loading of liquid oxygen. A Simulated Flight (SimFlight) or flight test of the vehicle's electrical and mechanical systems will follow on May 24.

Aura's four state-of-the-art instruments will study the dynamics of chemistry occurring in the atmosphere. The spacecraft will provide data to help scientists better understand the Earth's ozone, air quality and climate change.

The EOS Aura satellite, instruments and science investigations are managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Government oversight of launch preparations and the countdown management on launch day is the responsibility of the NASA Launch Services Program based at John F. Kennedy Space Center. The launch service is provided to NASA by Boeing Launch Services.

Launch Vehicle: Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: July 30, 2004
Launch Window: 2:17:44 a.m. - 2:17:56 a.m. EDT

MESSENGER is at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near Kennedy Space Center, where it is undergoing pre-launch testing.

Testing of the spacecraft's radio system uplink and downlinks through the KSC/JPL interface with the Deep Space Network (MIL-71) has been successfully completed. Autonomy testing continues. This verifies MESSENGER's ability to operate on its own when not in direct contact with Earth. Installation of thermal blankets has been completed as required on the schedule up to this time.

The review to determine the readiness to begin stacking the launch vehicle is scheduled to occur May 19. The assembly of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Pad 17-B is currently scheduled to begin on June 18 with the stacking of the first stage.

The launch period for MESSENGER extends through Aug. 13 of this year. MESSENGER was built for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

Status reports are available at:


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