Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

June 3, 2004
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Aura
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Pad: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base
Launch Date: No earlier than July 8, 2004
Launch Window: 6:01:57 a.m. - 6:04:57 a.m. EDT (3:01:57 a.m. - 3:04:57 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 VAFB, Calif.

A launch site readiness review was conducted on June 1. A subsequent decision was made to delay transportation and mate of the spacecraft to the Delta II launch vehicle until an issue with the Delta II second stage helium pressurization system is assessed by the launch team.

Fueling of the spacecraft was completed May 14. On May 26, the spacecraft was mated to the payload attach fitting, the interface with the Delta II. The spacecraft canning was completed June 1 in preparation for transportation to Space Launch Complex (SLC) 2.

The build-up of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on SLC 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.

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 prelaunch 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 21. Spacecraft fueling is planned for the end of this month.

The review to assess readiness to begin stacking the Boeing Delta II rocket on Pad 17-B was successfully completed May 19. Vehicle stacking is currently scheduled to begin on June 21, after the Global Positioning System (GPS) II-R12 launch, tentatively scheduled to launch on June 9.

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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