Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

June 17, 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 to no earlier than July 10 due to two issues. Additional time was needed to assure that suspect computer chips causing difficulty on a different satellite were not of the same lot as those aboard the Aura spacecraft. Also, the engineering review board needed additional time to clear the concern over the second stage fuel tank shutoff valve failure. It was resolved satisfactorily June 18. NASA is awaiting word from the Western Range that the request for a launch date of July 10 has been confirmed.

The spacecraft is at the Astrotech payload processing facility located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Although planned to be moved to Space Launch Complex 2 today, the wind is too high for hoisting atop the Delta II rocket. It remains on the transporter in the spacecraft hangar ready for rollout. What effect this may have on the launch date, if any, will be evaluated when the spacecraft arrives at the pad.

An Aura stand-alone state-of-health check at the pad is currently planned for Thursday or Friday. The Flight Program Verification, an integrated test involving the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle and the Aura spacecraft, is scheduled to occur June 28. Payload fairing installation is scheduled to begin July 1. The Flight Readiness Review has been rescheduled for July 6.

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 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.

The spacecraft's two solar arrays are undergoing cleaning today in preparation for installation on June 24 -25. One array will be installed each day. After an array is installed, a deployment test is conducted. Installation of thermal blankets continues. Spacecraft propellant loading is currently scheduled for June 29 – July 2. Spacecraft spin balance testing is planned for July 7.

Autonomy testing of the spacecraft has been successfully completed. This verified that MESSENGER can operate on its own when not in direct contact with Earth.

The stacking of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on pad 17-B is currently planned to begin one week after the launch of the Delta II carrying the Air Force Global Positioning Satellite occurs.

There are no technical issues or concerns with MESSENGER or its associated 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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