Launch Coverage

    Welcome to the Phoenix Launch Blog
    Phoenix lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:26 a.m. EDT on Aug. 4, 2007, aboard a Delta II-Heavy rocket. This is how the launch countdown unfolded.

    Activated: 3:15 a.m. EDT
    Deactivated: 7:15 a.m. EDT

    Blog Video Gallery
    Video highlights from the countdown are selected from televised coverage provided by NASA TV.
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    7:15 a.m. - With Phoenix reporting in healthy and comfortable, the coverage of the launch of the spacecraft to Mars will end here. Check the Phoenix Web site for updates throughout the mission.

    7:05 a.m. - Phoenix is on its way to Mars! The spacecraft is powering its batteries with the solar panels. The lander is due to set down on the northern plains of Mars in May 2008.

    7:02 a.m. - The Phoenix spacecraft has oriented itself to the sun as it was programmed to do. It will use solar panels to generate electricity during the nine-month coast to Mars. A separate set of solar arrays is attached to the lander itself.

    6:47 a.m. - Third stage engine has shut off as planned. Next, a set of weights on tethers will deploy to take the spin out of the spacecraft. The third stage and Phoenix were spun up to stabilize them as the third stage engine fired.

    6:44 a.m. - Second stage has separated and the solid-fueled third stage is burning as planned.

    6:41 a.m. - The second stage is burning as planned. It is a two-minute burn. The third stage has also reported in and is healthy.

    6:39 a.m. - The tracking aircraft has picked up signals from the Phoenix spacecraft again and all looks well. The second and third stages are still attached to the spacecraft, and the second stage will ignite momentarily for two minutes.

    6:20 a.m. - While Phoenix is in a parking orbit, it is out of contact with tracking stations. The tracking aircraft flying over the Pacific should pick up signals from Phoenix at about 6:40 a.m. Then a series of engine burns and stage separations will begin that will catapult Phoenix out of Earth orbit and on to Mars.

    5:52 a.m. - The official launch time for this morning's liftoff of Phoenix is 5:26:34 a.m. EDT.

    5:45 a.m. - The Phoenix spacecraft is in a parking orbit around Earth until the second stage ignites again in 54 minutes. The second burn will last about two minutes.

    5:36 a.m. - The second stage engine has turned off, as planned. The stage will remain connected with the spacecraft while it awaits a second burn in another 63 minutes. The spacecraft is moving faster than 15,000 mph.

    5:32 a.m. - The first stage main engine has shut off and separated. The second stage is burning. All is going to plan.

    5:29 a.m. - All the solid-fueled boosters have burned out and jettisoned. Everything is on track.

    5:26 a.m. - LIFTOFF!

    5:25 a.m. - 60 seconds to launch.

    5:24 a.m. - The Phoenix spacecraft is now on its own power. It will recharge its batteries using solar panels during its voyage to Mars.

    5:22 a.m. - At T-4 minutes, the countdown has resumed for a launch at 5:26 a.m.

    5:16 a.m. - 10 minutes until launch. The countdown remains in a planned hold at T-4 minutes. A final countdown poll has been conducted and all controllers have given their "go."

    5:12 a.m. - At T-4 minutes, the countdown has entered a planned 10-minute hold. This is the last scheduled pause in the countdown, but there are no reported technical issues or weather concerns.

    5:01 a.m. - At T-15 minutes, the countdown has resumed. Still no technical issues or forecast weather problems.

    4:56 a.m. - We are 30 minutes to launch and no problems or weather issues are reported. The clock remains in a planned hold at T-15 minutes.

    4:50 a.m. - The first stage main engine is aided by a set of solid-fueled booster rockets. Called GEMs, the boosters on the Delta II-Heavy are the largest flown on the Delta II. There are nine boosters and each one is 43 feet tall. Six will ignite on the launch pad. When they fall away after about a minute and six seconds into launch, the other three will ignite.

    4:41 a.m. - At T-15 minutes, the countdown entered a planned hold. The hold will last 20 minutes. Launch time is still 5:26 a.m. EDT and there are no technical issues. The weather forecast has improved - there is now less than 10 percent chance of poor conditions.

    4:30 a.m. - At T-25 minutes, launch controllers are preparing to enter a planned 20-minute hold in the countdown. The hold gives the controllers a chance to synchronize their instruments with the scheduled launch time.

    4:26 a.m. - With one hour to go before launch, everything remains on track for launch. Weather is good and no technical issues are being worked.

    4:20 a.m. - The liquid oxygen tank of the Delta II rocket has been loaded, but pumps will continue "topping off" the tank to make up for the small amount of liquid oygen that evaporates during the countdown.

    4:05 a.m. - Because the Phoenix lander is going to the Martian surface, NASA took special precautions on Earth to keep the spacecraft from contaminating the Martian surface. That means anyone who went into the clean room during Phoenix processing had to wear a full protective suit that covered clothing and most of the face.

    3:55 a.m. - The target of this morning's launch is the planet Mars, Earth's closest planetary neighbor. The Phoenix spacecraft is to land on the northern polar plain of Mars. The unmanned, robotic lander will use a variety of instruments to test the soil for signs of water.

    3:41 a.m. - Liquid oxygen is being pumped into the first stage.

    3:35 a.m. - Mission managers have given the "go" to pump liquid oxygen into the Delta II first stage. The liquid oxygen is mixed with the kerosene fuel already aboard to provide 200,000 pounds of thrust at launch.

    3:25 a.m. - The official forecast is nearly perfect launch. Meteorologists predict only a 10 percent chance of unacceptable weather. Weather at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here on Florida's Atlantic coast is beautiful this morning.

    3:17 a.m. - The Delta II rocket has been fueled with 10,000 gallons of kerosene for its first stage. Next up is the liquid oxygen loading.

    3:15 a.m. - Thanks for joining us this morning for what is expected to be a brilliant beginning to NASA's latest mission to Mars! The weather is great and the Delta II rocket poised to carry the Phoenix lander into space is being fueled. Launch time is scheduled for 5:26 a.m., and there will be a second opportunity at 6:02 a.m.

    Live Coverage Team
    Blog Updates: Steven Siceloff
    Site Updates/Quality Control: Cheryl L. Mansfield
    Video Uploads/Captions: Elaine Marconi
    Video Production: Alysia Lee
    Video Capture/Editing: Chris Chamberland
    and Gianni Woods