Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

May 26, 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 located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Fueling of the spacecraft was completed May 14. The next major activity is the mating to the payload attach fitting, the interface with the Delta II, which was scheduled to occur on May 24. This was delayed until today for resolution of a configuration problem with the secondary latch system that secures the spacecraft to the payload attach fitting. Transportation of the spacecraft to Space Launch Complex 2 for mating to the second stage of the Delta II is scheduled for June 2.

The build-up of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Space Launch Complex 2, located on North VAFB, was completed. The first stage was stacked April 29 and the second stage May 1. Work to install the nine solid rocket boosters was completed May 5. A vehicle control system check was successfully completed Monday. This procedure qualifies the first and second stage subsystems through a series of detailed tests. The first stage liquid oxygen leak check was completed May 21. It included a simulated countdown and the loading of liquid oxygen aboard the first stage. A simulated flight test of the vehicle's electrical and mechanical systems was successfully completed Monday.

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 (KSC). 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 undergoing pre-launch testing at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near KSC. Autonomy testing of the spacecraft 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 by the schedule up to this time. In upcoming work, the flight battery is scheduled for installation June 8 and the solar arrays will be installed June 22.

The review to assess readiness to begin stacking the Boeing Delta II rocket on Pad 17-B was successfully completed May 19. Vehicle stacking begins with the first stage June 18.

The launch period for MESSENGER extends through Aug. 13.

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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