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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 in California, work continues to prepare the Pegasus XL for the launch of the DART spacecraft. The gaseous nitrogen regulator has been repaired and the Reaction Control System is now being returned to Vandenberg for reinstallation on the Pegasus next week. Once that is complete, the DART spacecraft can be re-mated to the launch vehicle.

A preliminary review has been performed on the loads imparted by the Pegasus launch vehicle on the DART spacecraft. There has also been additional testing to ensure that the flight hardware on DART can withstand the change in vehicle loads. The final loads analysis is scheduled to be complete late this month.

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, and 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 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.

During testing of NOAA-N at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, an out-of-specification frequency change was detected to have occurred in one of the spacecraft's four S-Band transmitters. The drift of the center frequency means that tracking stations on the ground would have difficulty locking on to the signal. When last measured in December 2004, the frequency was nominal. Failure analysis must be performed to determine why the center frequency has drifted, which will lead to a determination being made on whether the transmitter needs to be removed and replaced, and whether there should be concern for the other transmitters. These units are not easily accessible. A launch postponement is necessary, though at this time the length of the delay is not known.

At Space Launch Complex 2, preparations for launch of the Boeing Delta II are going well. The First Stage Liquid Oxygen "LOX" Leak Check originally scheduled for this week is being rescheduled as a result of the launch postponement.

The first power-on testing of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle began on Jan. 31. The Vehicle Guidance and Control Qualifications, which are tests of the Delta II guidance and control systems, occurred Feb. 4. 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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