Kennedy News

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

July 14, 2004
Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
Mission: Aura
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Pad: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base
Launch Date: July 15, 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 was scrubbed this morning due to an issue with one of the two batteries on the second stage of the Delta II launch vehicle. At approximately three minutes before the scheduled liftoff time, as the batteries were being transferred to internal power, the battery current level dropped below prescribed limits, triggering a launch hold.

Engineers and mission managers are assessing the situation and will meet at 6 p.m. EDT (3 p.m. PDT) today to decide a date for the next launch attempt. Two options are being considered. The first is to attempt a launch on Thursday morning, July 15, during a three-minute launch window that opens at 6:01:59 a.m. EDT (3:01:59 a.m. PDT). The second option under consideration is to stand down until Saturday, July 17, due to range conflicts at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Weather is a concern for a launch attempt on Thursday morning. The current forecast calls for only a 60 percent probability of acceptable weather conditions. The primary concerns are for thick clouds and the possibility of triggered lightning in the launch area due to the remnants of daytime thunderstorm activity in Southern California.

In addition, Tropical Storm Blas, off the coast of Baja California, could prevent a P3 aircraft from flying to its launch support position. The P3 relays telemetry from the launch vehicle back to the launch team at Vandenberg.

The next launch update will be issued following the mission management team meeting this afternoon.

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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