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NASA - NASA's Launch Blog - THEMIS Mission
December 11, 2007

The Launch Blog was activated on Feb. 17, 2007 at 3:45 p.m.

The Launch Blog was deactivated at 7:15 p.m.

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All times are Eastern Standard Time (EST) unless otherwise stated.

7:14 p.m. - We have separation of Probe A, followed by the other four spacecraft. All five probes have separated cleanly according to the Telemetry Lab's Mark Lavigne.
› Spacecraft separation video

Launch Commentator Jessica Rye speaks with NASA Launch Manager Chuck Dovale following the successful deployment of the five THEMIS probes.
› Interview Video

7:09 p.m. - Burn-out of the third stage. We are approximately four minutes away from separation of the first of the five spacecraft.

7:07 p.m. - Second stage has separated and third stage is up and burning.

7:06 p.m. - And the second cutoff of the second stage has occurred.

7:05 p.m. - The second stage engine has reignited, taking the spacecraft out of the coast phase. This stage will burn for about one minute.

7:04 p.m. - The Air Force tracking aircraft "Big Crow" has a lock on the spacecraft.

Did You Know?
This mission will help to resolve the mystery of what causes the sudden brightening of the aurora borealis and the aurora australis - the fiery skies over the Earth's northern and southern polar regions.

6:49 p.m. - The vehicle continues in the coast phase and all is going well onboard with the spacecraft.

Did You Know?
THEMIS consists of five identical probes, the largest number of scientific satellites ever launched into orbit aboard a single rocket.
› View Image

6:12 p.m. - Command receiver decoder shutdown has occurred. The vehicle has reached initial orbit and has begun a 54-minute coast phase.

6:11 p.m. - Second stage engine cut-off has occurred at T+593.5 seconds and counting - "right on time" according to the Telemetry Lab's Mark Lavigne.

6:08 p.m. - Now at 97.5 miles altitude.

6:07 p.m. - A switch to the Antigua tracking station should occur momentarily. The vehicle has a velocity of over 14,000 miles per hour.

6:06 p.m. - Second stage is now 80 miles out.

6:05 p.m. - Main engine cut-off has occurred, first stage operation has ended and we've had separation. Second stage is up and burning. The fairing has unlatched and jettisoned.

6:04 p.m. - Six solids have burned out and been jettisoned. The vehicle at an altitude of 16 miles at T+100 seconds into the mission. Telemetry continues to look good. The second set of solid motors have been jettisoned. First stage guidance came in on time.

6:02 p.m. - At T+ 48 seconds, we have passed "Max Q," the area of maximum aerodynamic pressure.

6:01 p.m. - T-10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... We have ignition and liftoff of a Delta II rocket carrying THEMIS - NASA's revolutionary journey to study the Northern Lights!
› Launch Video

5:59 p.m. - T-2 minutes and counting. Permission has been given to launch. Liquid oxygen is being topped off to 100-percent levels.

5:58 p.m. - NASA and the THEMIS spacecraft have reported clear for launch. Weather continues to be go for launch.

5:57 p.m. - The final hold has been released. There are only four minutes remaining until launch. THEMIS has been configured for launch.

5:51 p.m. - The spacecraft has been configured for launch.

5:47 p.m. - We are now at the built-in hold at T-4, which will last for 10 minutes. The water tanks have been pressurized.

5:45 p.m. - The launch weather officer has verified that weather is "go" for launch.

5:44 p.m. - The liquid oxygen is being topped off and maintained between 99 and 100 percent in readiness for launch.

5:41 p.m. - We are at T-10 minutes and counting.

5:36 p.m. - We are now at T-15 minutes and counting. With the hold released, we will continue to count down to the T-4 mark, when the next scheduled hold occurs.

5:28 p.m. - The NASA launch manager has polled the team and they are ready to continue the terminal count at the end of the built-in hold. There is just one more hold during the countdown, and that will happen at T-4 and last for ten minutes.
› Poll Video

Did You Know?
This mission was named for Themis, the blindfolded Greek Goddess of order and justice.
› Learn more about the THEMIS mission

5:16 p.m. - We are now at T-15 minutes and holding. This is a scheduled 20-minute built in hold.

5:14 p.m. - Latest weather briefing reports zero percent chance of weather interfering with today's launch.

5:12 p.m. - Engine slew checks for the first stage are complete.

5:05 p.m. - Vehicle "slew" checks are in progress. These are engine nozzle steering checks for the Delta II's first and second stages.

4:59 p.m. - The data from the latest weather balloon shows "green" for upper-level winds.

4:57 p.m. - In progress is the testing of the command destruct receivers that can be used to destroy the rocket should it go off course.

4:45 p.m. - Filling of the first stage with fuel has concluded, taking a total of 27 minutes and two seconds to complete.

4:42 p.m. - At 95 percent, full rapid loading has concluded and fine load will continue to the 100 percent level.

4:39 p.m. - Cryogenic tanking has been in progress now for 21 minutes.

Did You Know?
Over the THEMIS mission's lifetime, it should be able to observe approximately 30 substorms, the geomagnetically disturbed periods which create auroras.

4:30 p.m. - We are now 13 minutes into the tanking process as the countdown clock stands at T-60 minutes and counting.

4:21 p.m. - As the cryogenic loading and countdown continue, there are no issues being worked at this time. The countdown is at T-69 minutes and counting.

4:16 p.m. - We are at T-75 minutes and counting. Loading of the liquid oxygen in the first stage has begun.

4:11 p.m. - At T-89 minutes, the blast danger area has been confirmed clear as the preparations are beginning for first-stage liquid oxygen loading.

Did You Know?
The avionics are the electrical "brain" of the rocket. Avionics are electrical systems that control the rocket during flight.

4:04 p.m. - NASA Launch Manager Chuck Dovale has polled the team, which reported they are go for cryogenic tanking.

4:01 p.m. - At T-89 minutes and counting, everything is looking good for an on-time launch at 6:01 this evening.

3:56 p.m. - We are at T-95 minutes and counting. Launch Weather Officer Joel Tumbiolo has just briefed the launch team, saying we are "looking at a real good day today." A cold front is forecasted to move through the area overnight and is expected to be through the area before sunrise tomorrow. Forecast for today is good, with clear skies and a temperature between 50 and 52 degrees. There is less than five percent chance of a weather violation. Should there be a 24-hour delay, tomorrow's concern would be ground winds. No issues are being tracked currently.
› Weather Video

3:45 p.m. - Welcome to coverage of the second launch attempt of the Delta II rocket that will carry the THEMIS mission into space.

The loading of 10,074 gallons of fuel is complete. Loading took 19 minutes and 34 seconds.

Before coverage began, we came out of the T-150 hold at 3:01 p.m. At that time, Launch Complex 17 was cleared of all essential personnel in preparation for fueling of the rocket. Pressurization of the first and second stages began, and loading of the approximately 10,000 gallons of RP-1 fuel started at 3:26 p.m.

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