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Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:20 am via: NASA
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Spacecraft: Juno
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V-551 (AV-029)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 41
Launch Date: Aug. 5, 2011
Launch Time: 11:34 a.m. EDT

At the Astrotech payload processing facility near Kennedy Space Center, Juno has been loaded with its complement of fuel and oxidizer propellants. Spin testing was conducted on July 12-13.

At Launch Complex 41, power-on testing for the fully integrated Atlas V launch vehicle began on July 5. The Combined Systems Test, a launch vehicle electrical test, was performed July 12. The next major test of the Atlas V will be the “wet dress rehearsal” on July 19. The rocket is fully loaded with liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen and RP-1 fuel for this test and a full countdown is performed.

The Juno spacecraft carries two redundant Flux Gate Magnetometer instruments that will measure Jupiter’s powerful magnetic environment. Lab testing of heaters similar to ones on Juno, designed to keep the instruments warm in space, indicated a small probability that wire connections may not operate as expected. As a precaution, NASA and Juno mission personnel decided to inspect the quality of Juno’s heater elements, and if necessary, repair solder joints connecting the heaters’ electrical wires to their mounting surfaces to ensure mission success. Work is expected to be completed over the weekend. The launch period for Juno is not expected to be affected.

Encapsulation of Juno into the payload fairing still is planned for Monday. Photos and video will be taken by NASA prior to and during the encapsulation process and will be provided to the news media.

Juno then will be transported to the launch pad and attached to the rocket on July 26. The launch of Juno aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket continues to be scheduled for Aug. 5 at 11:34 a.m. EDT.

The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter’s poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Spacecraft: GRAIL (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory)
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920 Heavy
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 17B
Launch Date: Sept. 8, 2011
Launch Time: 8:37:06 a.m. EDT and 9:16:12 a.m. EDT

At Astrotech, cruise phase and science system functional checks of the GRAIL spacecraft are finished. A lunar orbit insertion test also has been successfully completed. GRAIL is to be moved to a hazardous processing facility on Aug. 1 to begin preparations for fueling.

At NASA’s Space Launch Complex 17B, the Delta II first and second stage control system checks are now complete. The next major activity will be cryogenic flow testing on July 21. The first stage will be filled with liquid oxygen to check for leaks, and this also will serve as a launch team certification.

GRAIL’s primary science objectives will be to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core, and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.


Spacecraft: Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity)

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V-541 (AV-028)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 41
Launch Date: Nov. 25, 2011
Launch Time: 10:21 a.m. EST

The Mars Science Laboratory elements consisting of the Curiosity rover, cruise stage, descent stage, back shell and heat shield are each undergoing checkout and testing. The Curiosity rover will be rotated to wheels down, and its instrument mast will be deployed on July 19.

The Atlas V for the mission will arrive at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station later this month. It will be an Atlas V-541 configuration that will have four solid rocket boosters attached.

The rover’s 10 science instruments will search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release the gasses so that its spectrometer can analyze and send the data back to Earth.

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