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George Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(321) 867-2468

Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
MISSION: Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Pegasus XL (Orbital Sciences Corporation)

In the Orbital Sciences Corporation hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., a leak was observed last week during testing of the gaseous nitrogen regulator associated with the Pegasus launch vehicle's Reaction Control System (RCS). The regulator is used to maintain proper pressure in the RCS during flight. The regulator must be removed and replaced. It is located within the forward portion of the Pegasus third stage.

On Tuesday, DART was removed from the Pegasus to obtain access to the regulator. The spacecraft has been rotated to a vertical position, moved to a clean room and placed on a test stand.

A new launch date has not been determined. A revised schedule is being developed and should be finished next week with an assessed date for launch management coordination.

DART was designed and built for NASA by Orbital Sciences Corporation as an advanced flight demonstrator to locate and maneuver near an orbiting satellite. The DART spacecraft weighs about 800 pounds, is 6 feet long and 3 feet in diameter. The Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL vehicle will launch DART into a circular polar orbit of 475 miles. DART project management is the responsibility of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the NASA launch management is the responsibility of the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Services Program.

MISSION: NOAA-N (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)
LAUNCH VEHICLE: Boeing Delta II 7320
LAUNCH PAD: SLC-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
LAUNCH DATE: March 19, 2005
LAUNCH WINDOW: 2:22:01 - 2:32:01 a.m. PST

In California, processing of the NOAA-N weather satellite continues on schedule in NASA spacecraft processing hangar 1610 located on North Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Spacecraft Electrical Performance Test is currently under way. Battery conditioning was completed as scheduled last week. The Solar Array Illumination Telemetry Test is scheduled for Feb. 4. The final instrument inspections and associated instrument close-outs for flight will be performed Feb. 15-16. The spacecraft is currently scheduled to be taken to the launch pad to be mated with the Delta II rocket on Feb. 25.

At Space Launch Complex 2, the first power-on testing of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle is scheduled to begin on Jan. 31. The Vehicle Guidance and Control Qualifications, which are tests of the Delta II guidance and control systems, are scheduled for Feb. 7. The First Stage Liquid Oxygen "LOX" Leak Checks, a countdown test that involves loading liquid oxygen aboard the first stage and also serves as a countdown certification for the launch team, will be held on Feb. 11.

The build-up of the Boeing Delta II at the pad began on Jan. 12 with the erection of the first stage and interstage adapter. The three strap-on solid rocket boosters were attached to the vehicle on Jan. 17. The second stage was hoisted atop the first stage on Jan. 20.

After launch, NOAA-N will be renamed NOAA-18 and will provide measurements of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere that will be entered into NOAA's weather forecasting models and used for other environmental studies. Each day, the satellite will send data to NOAA's Command and Data Acquisition station computers, adding vital information to forecasting models, especially over the oceans, where conventional data is lacking.

The spacecraft will be turned over from NASA to NOAA after on-orbit checkout is complete. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is responsible for NOAA-N project management. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. The Delta II launch service is provided by the Boeing Expendable Launch Systems Company. Launch management is the responsibility of the NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Services Program office.

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