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Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Oct 1, 2011 9:20 am via: NASA
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Spacecraft: NPP (NPOESS Preparatory Project)
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7920
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Launch Pad: Space Launch Complex 2
Launch Date: Oct. 25, 2011
Launch Window: 2:48:01 a.m. – 2:57:11 a.m. PDT
Orbital Altitude: 512 miles

At Vandenberg Air Force Base, instrument inspection and cleaning of the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft have been completed. NPP spacecraft fuel loading of the hydrazine propellant was completed on Sept. 22, and propellant tank pressurization was completed on Sept. 24. Electrical Ground Support Equipment was delivered on Sept. 26 and preparations are under way for a validation test, which currently is scheduled for Oct. 4 – 5. The NPP spacecraft will be transported to the launch pad for attachment to the Delta II rocket on Oct. 7.

United Launch Alliance team members have resumed testing of the Delta II rocket at NASA’s Space Launch Complex 2. Pneumatic system testing on the first and second stages and control system testing was completed Sept. 28. The first stage liquid oxygen leak check and certification is scheduled to be completed today. This also will serve as a crew certification for the countdown on launch day, Oct. 25.

NPP represents a critical first step in building the next-generation of Earth-observing satellites. NPP will carry the first of the new sensors developed for this satellite fleet, now known as the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), to be launched in 2016. NPP is the bridge between NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites and the forthcoming series of JPSS satellites. The mission will test key technologies and instruments for the JPSS missions.

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

At Launch Complex 41, the four solid rocket boosters were attached to the Atlas first stage booster. The Centaur upper stage was hoisted atop the Atlas on Sept. 21. The initial launch vehicle power-on activities are planned for this week.

At NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the team is integrating the spacecraft in preparation for payload fairing encapsulation and subsequent attachment to the Atlas V in about five weeks. The descent stage to rover mate was completed last week. That configuration, known as the powered descent vehicle (PDV), was installed in the backshell. The entry vehicle configuration, which includes the heat shield, will be completed this week.

Curiosity has 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars has had environments favorable for microbial life, including chemical ingredients for life. 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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