Kennedy News

Don Savage
NASA Headquarters
(202) 358-1753

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

Jane Platt
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(818) 354-0880

April 9, 2003
RELEASE : 29-03
Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) To Be Launched Aboard Delta II April 18
The launch of NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility aboard a Boeing Delta II Heavy expendable launch vehicle is scheduled for Friday, April 18, at the opening of an instantaneous launch window that occurs at 4:32:49 a.m. EDT. Launch will occur from Pad 17-B on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Space Infrared Telescope Facility marks the finale of NASA's Great Observatories Program, which includes the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Its unprecedented infrared sensitivity will allow astronomers to study the most distant, coldest, and most dust-obscured objects and processes in the universe.

The observatory’s amazing ability to sleuth around for low-temperature objects will also aid in the search for planetary systems in the making, some of which may breed Earth-like planets. The mission is a cornerstone of NASA’s Origins Program, which seeks to answer the questions, "Where did we come from? Are we alone?"

SIRTF Prelaunch Press Conference

The prelaunch press conference will be held at the NASA News Center at KSC on Wednesday, April 16, at 1 p.m. EDT. Participating in the briefing will be:

Dr. Ed Weiler, associate administrator for space science
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Omar Baez, NASA launch director
Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Kris Walsh, director of NASA Programs
Boeing Expendable Launch Systems, Huntington Beach, California

David Gallagher, SIRTF project manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

USAF Delta/SIRTF Launch Weather Officer
45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Immediately following the prelaunch press conference, there will be a SIRTF mission science briefing. Participating will be:

Dr. Anne Kinney, director, Astronomy and Physics Division
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Dr. Michael Werner, SIRTF project scientist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Dr. Robert Kennicut, astronomer, SIRTF Legacy Science Team
University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Dr. Michael Jura, SIRTF interdisciplinary scientist
University of California, Los Angeles, California

Dr. Dale Cruikshank, SIRTF interdisciplinary scientist for planetary science
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

No post-launch press conference will be held. A post-launch release will be issued at approximately 8 a.m. with details on the state of health of SIRTF.


Those who need access badges to cover the prelaunch press conference and the launch of SIRTF should send a letter of request on news organization letterhead to the NASA-KSC News Center by the close of business on Tuesday, April 15. Include the names and Social Security numbers, birth dates, nationality and country of citizenship of those who require accreditation. Letters should be faxed to 321/867-2692 or may be addressed to:

SIRTF Launch Accreditation
Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

Remote Camera Placement at Complex 17

On Thursday, April 17, at 5:30 p.m., photographers wishing to establish remote cameras at Pad 17-B should meet at the Gate 1 Pass & Identification Building located on SR 401 just outside Gate 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for transportation to the launch complex.

Tower Rollback Photo Opportunity

On Thursday, April 17, there will be an opportunity to observe rollback of the mobile service tower from around the SIRTF/Delta II launch vehicle at Pad 17-B. Media should meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Gate 1 Pass & Identification Building on SR 401 just outside Gate 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Launch Day Press Coverage

To obtain badges for launch on Friday, April 18, media covering the SIRTF launch should assemble at the Gate 1 Pass and Identification Building on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station located on State Road 401 at 3 a.m. Press credentials and identification from a bona fide news organization will be required. A driver’s license alone will not be sufficient.

Due to the location of the impact limit lines for this launch, a special press site has been established located on south Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the east side of the Trident turn basin. Because this site is located on a bluff that is relatively remote and space available for parking is very limited, media will be taken by bus to this location. Remote trucks used by television stations for live launch coverage will be the only media vehicles permitted at the press site. The bus will depart from Gate 1 at 3:15 a.m. Remote trucks will also be escorted to the special press site location at this time.

Video and audio plug-in capability for NASA Television will be available. There will not be telephones available, so media should plan on bringing their own cellular phones.

News Center Hours for Launch

On L-2 and L-1 days, the NASA News Center at KSC will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On launch day, April 18, the News Center will open at L+1 hour.

NASA Television Coverage

NASA Television will carry live the SIRTF/Delta II pre-launch Press Conference and Mission Science Briefing on Wednesday, April 16, starting at 1 p.m. EDT. On launch day, Friday, April 18, launch commentary will begin at 3 a.m. EDT and continue until a successful mission can be confirmed which will be at approximately 5:30 a.m. EDT.

NASA Television is available on the GE-2 satellite, Transponder 9C, located at 85 degrees West. NASA Television coverage of the SIRTF launch will also be available on the web at

Audio only of the prelaunch press conference and the launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits which may be accessed by dialing 321/867-1220…1240…1260...7135.

Status Reports

Recorded status reports on the launch of SIRTF and updates to the Note To Editors will be provided on the KSC news media codaphone starting on Tuesday, April 15. The telephone number is 321/867-2525.

The management of the SIRTF launch is the responsibility of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the SIRTF project for the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters. The fully integrated SIRTF spacecraft was designed and built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Sunnyvale, Calif. SIRTF’s cryogenic telescope was designed and built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. The observatory’s three science instruments were provided by astronomers at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. After launch, SIRTF will be operated by teams from JPL, Caltech and Lockheed Martin.

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