Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

July 13, 2004
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Aura
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Pad: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base
Launch Date: July 14, 2004
Launch Window: 6:01:59 a.m. - 6:04:59 a.m. EDT (3:01:59 a.m. - 3:04:59 a.m. PDT)

The launch of NASA's Aura spacecraft atop a Boeing Delta II rocket has been delayed for at least 24 hours. Launch will occur no earlier than Wednesday, July 14 with a three-minute window at 6:01:59 a.m. EDT (3:01:59 a.m. PDT).

This morning, during final T-20 minute hold, spacecraft engineers announced that they could not resolve an outstanding issue with the solid-state recorder. Engineers have begun diagnostic testing. The mission management team will convene this afternoon at 3 p.m. PDT to confirm the new launch date.

Launch Vehicle: Delta II Heavy
Launch Pad: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Launch Date: August 2, 2004
Launch Window: 2:16:11 a.m. - 2:16:23 a.m. EDT

With the successful launch of the Air Force Delta/GPS mission last week, the launch of NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has been rescheduled and is now targeted to occur Aug. 2. While the previous launch date of July 30 may have been achievable, the additional margin now being built into the schedule will provide greater confidence in meeting this new launch date.

MESSENGER is undergoing prelaunch testing and final assembly at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near Kennedy Space Center. Yesterday it was moved to a hazardous processing facility in preparation for loading the spacecraft's complement of hypergolic propellants. Fueling is underway today and will conclude July 1.

The spacecraft's two solar arrays were installed on June 24 - 25 and a deployment test was conducted. Installation of thermal blankets continues. Spacecraft propellant loading is scheduled for June 29 – July 2. Spacecraft spin balance testing is planned for July 7.

Autonomy testing of the spacecraft has been successfully completed and MESSENGER is verified to operate independently when not in direct contact with Earth. The spacecraft Mission Readiness Review was completed on June 24 without any major issues remaining to be resolved.

The stacking of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on pad 17-B is planned to begin on Wednesday, June 30, with the hoisting of the first stage atop the launcher. Attachment of the nine strap-on solid rocket boosters in sets of three will be performed July 1 - 6. The second stage is scheduled to be hoisted into position atop the first stage on July 8.

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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