Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

June 10, 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)

The launch of NASA's Aura spacecraft, the latest in the Earth Observing System (EOS) series, has been rescheduled for no earlier than July 8, 2004. During testing of the Delta II launch vehicle on the pad at Space Launch Complex 2, a helium leak was observed in the second stage fuel tank shutoff valve. It must be removed and replaced, and this work will be done tomorrow. The associated retesting will be complete on Tuesday, June 15.

The spacecraft is at the Astrotech payload processing facility located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and is ready to go to the launch pad, now rescheduled to occur on June 18. The spacecraft's batteries are being charged during the interim.

The Flight Program Verification, an integrated test involving the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle and the Aura spacecraft is scheduled to occur on June 24. The Flight Readiness Review is planned for July 1.

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 undergoing prelaunch testing at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near Kennedy Space Center.

Autonomy testing of the spacecraft has been successfully completed. This verifies MESSENGER's ability to operate on its own when not in direct contact with Earth. Installation of thermal blankets continues.

The solar arrays will be installed June 21, followed by release tests on June 23-24. Spacecraft propellant loading is scheduled for June 28 – July 2. Spacecraft spin balance testing is planned for July 7 and mating to the upper stage booster will occur July 12. The spacecraft will leave Astrotech for Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 16 and be mated to the Delta II rocket at Pad 17-B. Meanwhile, stacking of the launch vehicle on the pad is currently planned to begin on June 23.

There are no technical issues or concerns with MESSENGER or the Delta II at this time.

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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