Launch Coverage

    Swift Launch Countdown

    The Virtual Launch Control Center was deactivated at 1:40 p.m. EST.

    The Virtual Launch Control Center was activated at 10:30 a.m. EST.

    Launch Day VideosLaunch Day Videos
    + View Videos

    1:36 p.m. - Spacecraft separation! The Swift spacecraft is on its own. It was a two step separation, with a separation nut firing, and then the clam band release.

    1:32 p.m. - Telemetry is flowing into the Hawaii tracking station. We are minutes away from spacecraft separation.

    1:27 p.m. - Kwajalein has lost the signal. This is not an issue, but personnel are working on reacquisition. It is not a vehicle problem. At this time the second stage engine should have restarted, but we are awaiting confirmation of that. Hawaii is expected to pick up the signal shortly.

    1:23 p.m. - The tracking station at Kwajalein is picking up the signal now.

    Did you know?
    There will be six different telemetry stations around the world monitoring the health of the Swift Spacecraft after it launches. KSC/CCAFS will be the first, followed by Antigua, a USAF Deployable Site at Sao Tome, Kwajalein Atoll, Hawaii and lastly Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

    12:52 p.m. - During the coast phase, none of the six telemetry stations will be in contact with the spacecraft and vehicle. About an hour and six minutes after launch, or 1:22 p.m., the tracking station at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands will acquire the signal.

    12:44 p.m. - We've just entered a planned coast phase following the restart and shutdown of the Stage 2 engine. The third restart and final shutdown will occur in 43 minutes.

    Did you know?
    The prime mission duration for the Swift Spacecraft is two years and an orbital life of about seven years.

    12:27 p.m. - The Swift spacecraft has entered a coast phase. The next milestone will be restart of the Stage 2 engine about 26 minutes after launch.

    12:26 p.m. - The second stage has been cut off. It will be restarted and shut down twice more during ascent. At this time, Antigua is tracking the Swift spacecraft as it speeds away from Cape Canaveral.

    12:22 p.m. - Today's official launch time was 12:16:00.611 EST.

    12:21 p.m. - The protective payload fairing has been successfully jettisoned. We are now five minutes into the flight.

    12:20 p.m. - Main engine cutoff (MECO). Stages 1 and 2 have separated and Stage 2 has ignited.

    12:17 p.m. - Booster burnout and jettison.

    12:16 p.m. - T-10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... We have ignition and liftoff of NASA's Swift spacecraft on a mission to study and understand gamma-ray bursts throughout the universe!

    12:15 p.m. - T-50 seconds and counting. The second stage has been turned on.

    12:13 p.m. - Everything is going smoothly 2.5 minutes before launch!

    12:12 p.m. - T-4 minutes and counting! There are no concerns being discussed at this time.

    12:08 p.m. - The launch team is now receiving final instructions on countdown procedures.

    12:05 p.m. - The NASA Launch Manager has polled his team. We are go to proceed with the countdown.

    12:00 p.m. - Because some countdown activities are running a few minutes behind, mission managers have pushed back today's liftoff time to 12:16 p.m.

    Did you know?
    The Mission Operations Center (MOC) at Penn State University will provide real-time command and control of the spacecraft and monitor the observatory, while also taking care of science and mission planning.

    11:56 a.m. - T-4 minutes and holding.

    11:54 a.m. - We are at T-6 minutes and counting with only two minutes remaining to the 10 minute built-in hold at T-4 minutes.

    11:51 a.m. - The Eastern Range reports they are ready for launch.

    11:50 a.m. - T-10 minutes and counting. The Launch Weather Officer has given an update. We are green on all constraints.

    11:45 a.m. - T-15 minutes and counting. At T-4 minutes we will go into a built-in 10-minute hold.

    11:44 a.m. - Engine slews have been successfully completed.

    11:40 a.m. - The NASA Launch Manager just finished polling his team. The team is go for launch.

    11:38 a.m. - The second stage is now being checked.

    Did you know?
    During its 2-year mission, Swift is expected to observe more than 200 gamma-ray bursts - the most comprehensive study of GRB afterglows to date.

    11:37 a.m. - Engine steering checks, called slew checks, are about to begin. These tests ensure the rocket will be able to steer itself during launch and ascent. The second stage will be checked first, followed by the first stage.

    11:28 a.m. - The NASA Launch Manager has conducted his poll to continue with terminal countdown. The team is ready.

    11:20 a.m. - After 27.29 minutes, the launch vehicle is now 100% loaded with supercold liquid oxygen and the topping valves are closed. The vehicle is now fully fueled for launch! Throughout the rest of the countdown, the tank will be replenished with small amounts of LOX to replace what naturally boils away.

    11:18 a.m. - 95% of the liquid oxygen (LOX) has been loaded into the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle. The rapid load valve is closed; we will proceed with the fine load up to 99%.

    11:13 a.m. - We're now 20 minutes into the LOX cryo tanking.

    11:10 a.m. - During a weather briefing, Launch Weather Officer Joel Tumbiolo reports that there is a 0% chance of a weather violation today and we are currently green for all launch constraints.

    Did you know?
    Under certain weather conditions, as the Delta II Rocket is loaded with super cooled liquid oxygen, the body appears to turn from a teal color to a frosty white color due to the extremely cold liquid oxygen mixing with the humidity in the air.

    11:00 a.m. - At T-59 minutes and counting, we are now seven minutes into the cryo tanking.

    10:53 a.m. - Cryo tanking has begun.

    10:47 a.m. - The NASA Launch Manager just polled his team. The team has given the go for cryo tanking -- loading the launch vehicle with supercold liquid oxygen (LOX).

    10:37 a.m. - 9,000 gallons of fuel have been loaded into the launch vehicle.

    10:34 a.m. - 6,000 gallons of fuel have been loaded into the launch vehicle. The exact amount of fuel to be loaded today is 9,882 gallons.

    10:31 a.m. - 5,000 gallons of fuel have been loaded into the launch vehicle.

    10:29 a.m. - The Boeing Delta II launch vehicle is being loaded with RP-1, a highly refined kerosene fuel. At this time, 4,000 gallons have been loaded, heading for a total of approximately 10,000 gallons.

    10:25 a.m. - T-95 minute weather briefing. Today's forecast calls for scattered clouds and good visibility. At launch time -- T-0 -- will be 76-78 degrees. We have less than a 10% chance of violation.

    Did you know?
    The Swift team has international partners from Great Britain and Italy.