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NASA Teams Readying Rovers for the Red Planet
NASA Teams Readying Rovers for the Red Planet
15 May 2003
(Source: Kennedy Space Center)


George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center

MISSION: Mars Exploration Rover (MER-2)
LAUNCH TIMES: 2:16 p.m. / 2:55:29 p.m. EDT

Mating of the MER-2 entry vehicle to the cruise stage was completed on May 7. The spacecraft has completed its weight and center of gravity determination and underwent its initial spin balance testing. On May 11 the spacecraft was fueled. Tomorrow night, May 15, will be second spin test now that the spacecraft is fueled.

During routine testing of the cruise stage and the MER-2 rover over the weekend, an unexpected measurement in the rover's power system was observed. Troubleshooting is under way but it is not expected to delay the schedule of planned pre-launch spacecraft preparations at this time.

The mission will have two launch opportunities each day during the launch period, which is scheduled to close on June 19. Arrival at Mars is set for Jan 4, 2003, regardless of the launch date within that period.

On Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the solid rocket booster erection begins today with the first three set of motors being attached to the first stage, the second set of three will be erected on Thursday, May 15, and the final set will be hoisted into position on Friday, May 16. The first stage was erected on Pad 17-A on Wednesday, April 23. The second stage erection was completed on Monday, April 28 and the fairing was hoisted into the white room on April 30. The Simulated Flight test of the first stage was successfully completed May 9. The spacecraft is scheduled to be mated to the third stage in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) on May 23. MER-2 will be transported to the launch pad on May 27.

MISSION: Mars Exploration Rover (MER-2)
LAUNCH DATE: June 25, 2003
LAUNCH TIME: 12:38:16 a.m. / 1:19:19 a.m. EDT

On MER-1, rover installation onto the base petal and lander air bag installation were completed on May 9. The operation to install the backshell over the lander begins tonight and is scheduled to be complete on Friday. Full integration of the MER-1 entry vehicle (back shell, heat shield, lander and rover) is to be completed by May 21 and followed by mating the entry vehicle to the cruise stage.

The MER-B vehicle's first stage is on Pad 17-B and the solid rocket boosters will be erected May 19-24; the second stage will be hoisted atop the first stage on May 28.

MISSION: SCISAT-1/Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment
LAUNCH FACILITY: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
LAUNCH DATE: NET July 25, 2003
LAUNCH TIME: 10:36:55 p.m. - 11:34:04 p.m.

The SCISAT spacecraft is completing final testing at the Canadian Space Agency's David Florida Laboratories. The pre-ship review prior to transportation of the spacecraft to Vandenberg Air Force Base is to be held near the end of the month.

SCISAT-1 weighs approximately 330 pounds and will be placed in a 400-mile-high polar orbit to investigate processes that control the distribution of ozone in the upper atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the Pegasus XL rocket is undergoing prelaunch preparations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by Orbital Sciences Corporation.

The scientific mission of SCISAT-1/ACE (Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment) mission is to measure and understand the chemical processes that control the distribution of ozone in the Earth's atmosphere, particularly at high altitudes. The data from the satellite will provide Canadian and international scientists with improved measurements relating to global ozone processes and help policy makers assess existing environmental policy and develop protective measures for improving the health of our atmosphere, preventing further zone depletion. The mission is designed to last two years.

MISSION: Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF)
LAUNCH PAD: 17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
LAUNCH DATE: August 27, 2003

The SIRTF observatory is in NASA's class 10,000 laminar flow clean room at spacecraft Hangar AE awaiting its return to the launch pad, currently anticipated to occur in mid-August.

Project management of SIRTF for NASA is by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The observatory has been built for NASA by Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace.

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Last Updated: 28 May 2003