BY JUSTIN RAY
Follow the countdown and launch of a Boeing Delta 2 rocket with NASA's Genesis solar wind sample return probe. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2001
NASA's Genesis probe successfully performed its first course correction maneuver today as controllers to report the spacecraft remains healthy two days after launch.
Ground controllers established a two-way communication link between Genesis and Earth soon after Wednesday's launch, enabling the navigation team to start collecting data to assess the spacecraft's flight path.
Genesis' flight path was adjusted today at about 1:21 p.m. EDT. The small thrusters burned for 53.5 seconds. This moved the spacecraft about 5.2 meters per second (11.6 miles per hour) into a path to reach the Lagrange 1, or L1, point, where the gravities of the Sun and Earth are balanced. Genesis will reach L1 in November.
The navigation team expects to be able to determine by Monday how to modify the spacecraft's flight path during the next adjustment in early September.
Among various housekeeping events just after launch, the team commanded the spacecraft to transmit to Earth and brought the spacecraft out of safe mode. Safe mode is a standby state used to keep the spacecraft dormant during launch. Genesis has now communicated with all three of NASA's Deep Space Network stations -- in Goldstone, Calif.; Canberra, Australia; and Madrid, Spain.
The team also commanded Genesis to spin at its normal rate, 1.6 revolutions per minute.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2001
NASA's Genesis spacecraft was successfully launched on its three-year, 20-million mile voyage by a Boeing Delta 2 rocket today, kicking off the $260 million mission that aims to catch particles streaming from the Sun and return them to scientists on Earth. Read our full launch story.
1749 GMT (1:49 p.m. EDT)
The first poll of the Genesis control team has been completed. There were a couple red alarms detected on the spacecraft, but neither are of any significance. The solar panels are deployed the spacecraft is healthy.
Genesis has embarked on its three-month journey to the L1 point located a million miles from Earth. At that spot, where the gravity of the Sun and Earth are balanced, the Lockheed Martin-built craft will circle for two-and-a-half years to gather bits of the solar wind.
The solar wind is the stream of invisible charged particles that flow from the Sun. Genesis will return a collection of 10 to 20 micrograms of solar wind to Earth in September 2004 for scientists to examine in hopes of determining the exact composition of our star and yielding clues about the birth of our solar system. The samples will be protected inside a reentry capsule to be captured in mid-air by a helicopter over Utah.
"The samples that Genesis returns will show us the composition of the original solar nebula that formed the planets, asteroids, comets and the Sun we know today," said Chet Sasaki, the Genesis project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Genesis is the fifth probe launched in NASA's Discovery program of low-cost solar system exploration following NEAR Shoemaker, Mars Pathfinder, Lunar Prospector and Stardust. Construction of the Genesis spacecraft and mission operation costs total $209 million. The launch costs were an additional $50 million or so.
1738 GMT (1:38 p.m. EDT)
Acquisition of signal! The Goldstone tracking station has picked up Genesis' signal, confirming the spacecraft is alive following launch today. The craft should be in a safe mode with its solar panels deployed and oriented properly. Controllers will now begin reviewing the the initial data being received from Genesis to determine if there are any problems.
1737 GMT (1:37 p.m. EDT)
The Genesis team reports that it appears the Boeing Delta 2 rocket has performed just as expected, giving the spacecraft a good ride away from Earth.
1730 GMT (1:30 p.m. EDT)
Genesis should have its solar arrays deployed and spin adjusted by this point. The spacecraft is currently high above the Pacific Ocean. Controllers plan to make contact with the probe once it rises over the horizon of the Goldstone tracking station in California in about 9 minutes.
1719 GMT (1:19 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 66 minutes. The Genesis spacecraft should be automatically deploying it's two power-generating solar panels. In about 20 minutes the Goldstone tracking site of NASA's Deep Space Network should establish contact with Genesis, giving controllers their first chance to determine the craft's health after launch.
1717 GMT (1:17 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 64 minutes, 8 seconds. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! Officials confirm NASA's Genesis solar wind sample return spacecraft has been released from the Delta rocket's third stage following launch today from Cape Canaveral.
1714 GMT (1:14 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 61 minutes. The powered phase of today's launch is completed. In about two-and-a-half minutes, two small yo-yo-like structures are released from the third stage to reduce the spinning motion the Delta rocket and Genesis are experiencing in preparation for satellite separation.
1714 GMT (1:14 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 60 minutes, 30 seconds. Stage separation has been confirmed and the solid-fueled Thiokol Star 37FM third stage has performed its 65-second burn. Data from the Delta 2 is now being relayed via the Welpa tracking site in Australia.
1712 GMT (1:12 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 59 minutes. The orbit achieved following the second burn of the second stage shows an apogee of 2,057.745 nautical miles, perigee of 98.361 nautical miles and inclination of 28.505 degrees to the equator. That's a good orbit, right near the predicts.
1711 GMT (1:11 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 58 minutes. SECO 2. The second stage engine has shut down as planned.
1709 GMT (1:09 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 56 minutes, 40 seconds. Second stage restart has occurred. The liquid-fueled Aerojet AJ10-118K engine is firing again, raising the orbital altitude as Genesis continues its ride on the Boeing Delta 2 rocket.
1707 GMT (1:07 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 54 minutes. The Port Hedland, Australia tracking site has acquired the signal from the Delta 2 rocket. Just over two minutes away from the planned restart of the second stage. The engine will fire for approximately 70 seconds, to be followed by spin up of the vehicle and separation between the second and third stages.
1703 GMT (1:03 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 50 minutes. The rocket is currently nearing the northwest corner of Australia as it approaches the restart of the second stage engine. Telemetry coverage will be provided via the deployable relay station at Port Hedland.
1653 GMT (12:53 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 40 minutes. You can check out the ground track to see the path the Delta 2 and Genesis are taking today.
1637 GMT (12:37 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 24 minutes. NASA reports everything has gone well to this point in the flight of the Delta 2 rocket with Genesis. The vehicle is in its coast mode and out of range from any ground station until it arrives in the skies over Australia. We will pause our coverage for the moment and will resume once we get closer to restart of the second stage.
1630 GMT (12:30 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 17 minutes. The official liftoff time was 12:13:40.324 p.m. EDT.
1629 GMT (12:29 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 16 minutes. The parking orbit achieved following cutoff of the second stage is right as predicted with an apogee of 106.546 nautical miles, perigee of 100.0 nautical miles and inclination of 28.5 degrees to the equator.
The vehicle has passed out of range from the Antigua tracking station. The next live telemetry will come via tracking stations in Australia during the upcoming second and third stage burns and spacecraft separation.
1625 GMT (12:25 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 12 minutes. The Delta rocket is now in a coast period that will last until the second stage restarts at T+plus 56 minutes, 41 seconds.
1624 GMT (12:24 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 11 minutes. Boeing reports the second stage cutoff occurred about seven seconds early. But that indicates the first stage was more energetic than expected.
1624 GMT (12:24 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 10 minutes, 32 seconds. SECO 1. Confirmation that the second stage engine has shut down as planned. The Delta 2 rocket with Genesis has arrived in a preliminary orbit around Earth.
1623 GMT (12:23 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 10 minutes. Smooth flight continues for the Delta 2 rocket. Coming up on second stage engine cutoff.
1621 GMT (12:21 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes, 30 seconds. Data from the rocket now being received from the downrange Antigua tracking station.
1619 GMT (12:19 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes. Second stage engine continues to burn as planned. Altitude 81 miles, downrange distance 510 miles, velocity over 12,400 mph.
1619 GMT (12:19 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 5 minutes, 20 seconds. The protective payload fairing enclosing the Genesis satellite atop the rocket has separated with no recontact detected.
1618 GMT (12:18 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 45 seconds. Second stage engine ignition has been confirmed.
1618 GMT (12:18 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes, 35 seconds. MECO. The first stage main engine cutoff confirmed, and the spent stage has been jettisoned.
1617 GMT (12:17 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes. Altitude 44 miles, downrange distance 197 miles, velocity 9,400 mph. Coming up on staging.
1616 GMT (12:16 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 50 seconds. Altitude 27 miles, downrange distance 85 miles, velocity 4,500 mph.
1616 GMT (12:16 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The rocket continues its trek to orbit on the power of the first stage liquid-fueled main engine. The RS-27A powerplant and twin vernier steering thrusters continue to burn normally.
1615 GMT (12:15 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 1 minute, 30 seconds. Altitude 10 miles, downrange distance 27 miles.
1615 GMT (12:15 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 1 minute, 5 seconds. All three ground-start solid rocket boosters have burned out and separated.
1614 GMT (12:14 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 50 seconds. Vehicle has gone supersonic.
1614 GMT (12:14 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 30 seconds. Solid rocket motors have passed period of maximum thrust.
1614 GMT (12:14 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 20 seconds. Vehicle has rolled to the proper trajectory.
1613:40 GMT (12:13:40 p.m. EDT)
LIFTOFF! Liftoff of Genesis bound for a 20 million-mile journey in search of our origins. And the Boeing Delta 2 rocket has cleared the tower.
1613:10 GMT (12:13:10 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 30 seconds. Hydraulics and electronics reported go.
The launch ignition sequence will begin at T-minus 2 seconds when a Boeing engineer triggers the engine start switch. The process begins with ignition of the two vernier engines and first stage main engine start. The three solid rocket motors then light at T-0 for liftoff.
At launch, the rocket will produce about a half-million pounds of thrust and embark on a 95-degree flight azimuth, heading east away from Central Florida.
1612:40 GMT (12:12:40 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute. The Range has given its final clear-to-launch. The Delta 2 rocket's second stage hydraulic pump has gone to internal power after its pressures were verified acceptable.
1612:10 GMT (12:12:10 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 90 seconds. At the telemetry receiving areas where data from the rocket will be transmitted the data recording charts have gone to high speed.
1611:40 GMT (12:11:40 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes. NASA's Genesis spacecraft has been declared "go" for launch today. The craft is running on internal power.
The first stage liquid oxygen vents are now being closed so the LOX tank can be pressurized for launch. Puffs of vapor from a relief valve on the rocket will be seen in the remainder of the countdown as the tank pressure stabilizes.
1610:40 GMT (12:10:40 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The safety destruct safe and arm devices are being armed.
1609:40 GMT (12:09:40 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes and counting. Now in the final phase of the countdown the Delta 2 rocket's systems begin transferring to internal power for launch.
Launch of NASA's Genesis probe remains set to occur at 12:13:40 p.m. EDT from pad 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. No problems are standing in the way of the 287th Delta rocket launch, the 98th for a Delta 2 and fifth of 2001.
1608:40 GMT (12:08:40 p.m. EDT)
Now five minutes from launch! Standing by for release of the hold in one minute.
1607 GMT (12:07 p.m. EDT)
Now six minutes away from launch. The trickle charge to the Genesis spacecraft atop the Delta rocket is stopping at this point, and the satellite is switching to internal power for flight.
1606 GMT (12:06 p.m. EDT)
The launch team has been polled by Boeing Launch Conductor George Stout for a "go" to proceed with the countdown. No problems were reported. The team is now receiving final instructions on countdown procedures.
1604 GMT (12:04 p.m. EDT)
NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez has polled his team and confirmed the space agency is ready to continue with the countdown for an on-time liftoff today.
1602 GMT (12:02 p.m. EDT)
We are now receiving word that the Mars Odyssey problem NASA was reviewing earlier involves intermittent trouble uplinking one of several software sequences to the spacecraft. So far, it's had no mission impact for Odyssey. But since the same sort of software updating is planned for Genesis, officials wanted to discuss the situation this morning. Again, officials ruled this is not a constraint to launch today.
1601 GMT (12:01 p.m. EDT)
The latest computer program based upon upper level winds have been uploaded to the Delta 2 rocket's guidance computer. The information tells the computer what wind conditions to expect during the climb to orbit today.
1559 GMT (11:59 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes and holding. The countdown has entered the final planned hold point for today's launch attempt. During this planned 10-minute, 40-second hold, officials will poll the various team members behind the scenes, in the "soft blockhouse", Range Operations Control Center and Mission Directors Center. If all systems are go, the countdown will resume for liftoff at 12:13:40 p.m. EDT.
At this time, the launch weather team reports conditions will allow liftoff today. Also, the NASA team reports the Genesis spacecraft is ready for launch.
1555 GMT (11:55 a.m. EDT)
The first stage fuel tank vent is being closed and the tank is being pressurized for launch. And the third stage and spacecraft safe and arm devices are being armed.
1553 GMT (11:53 a.m. EDT)
The Range now reports the intruder boat has been cleared from the launch danger zone. So the Range is again "go" for launch. We are now 20 minutes away from liftoff time. There are no technical problems being worked by the launch team and the weather remains favorable.
1551 GMT (11:51 a.m. EDT)
The Range is now red! The Air Force-controlled Eastern Range reports there is a boat that has been found inside the restricted waters of the Atlantic Ocean in an area where the spent solid rocket boosters will impact during launch. Efforts are underway to contact the vessel to get it moved out of the way.
Today's launch window is just two-minutes in length from 12:13:40 to 12:15:40 p.m. EDT.
1550 GMT (11:50 a.m. EDT)
Inhibited checks are now underway for the Range Safety command destruct receivers that would be used in destroying the Delta rocket should the vehicle veer off course and malfunction during the launch.
NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham says the issue being discussed by the Genesis team relates to a common component used by the solar wind probe and the Mars-bound Odyssey spacecraft. Both satellites were built by Lockheed Martin. Apparently a problem has arisen with a part on Odyssey. However, officials say this concern is it won't delay today's launch.
1543 GMT (11:43 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The planned hold in the countdown has been released. Clocks will now tick down to T-minus 4 minutes when the final hold is planned.
1539 GMT (11:39 a.m. EDT)
The launch team has been polled by Boeing Launch Conductor George Stout for a "go" to proceed with the countdown. Boeing Mission Director Rich Murphy and NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez had already polled their respective teams. No technical problems were reported with the rocket, spacecraft or pad systems. However, NASA did report an issue had come up with Mars Odyssey. No word on what that problem is. Both Genesis and Odyssey were built by Lockheed Martin. Clocks are due to resume at 11:43 a.m.
1533 GMT (11:33 a.m. EDT)
Now half-way through this built-in hold here at T-minus 20 minutes. The very quiet countdown remains on schedule for launch at 12:13:40 p.m. EDT today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Launch Weather Officer Johnny Weems reports there is now less than a 10 percent chance conditions will prohibit liftoff today.
1523 GMT (11:23 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 minutes and holding. The countdown has entered a planned 20-minute built-in hold. This pause is designed to give the launch team a chance to work any problems or catch up on activities that might be running behind schedule. At this point, there are no technical issues being reported and the weather is absolutely beautiful here in Central Florida.
1513 GMT (11:13 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 30 minutes and counting. The countdown rolls on at Cape Canaveral with one hour from the planned launch time. There is a 20-minute planned built-in hold upcoming at T-minus 20 minutes, then a 10-minute, 40-second hold at T-minus 4 minutes.
The launch team will soon begin the "slew" or steering checks of the first and second stage engines. These tests are gimbal checks of the nozzles on the first stage main engine and twin vernier engines and second stage engine to ensure the engines will be able to steer the rocket during launch.
And in the next few minutes RF link tests between the Range and rocket are scheduled.
1503 GMT (11:03 a.m. EDT)
The Delta rocket is fully fueled for its scheduled liftoff 70 minutes from now. The vehicle's first stage was loaded with RP-1 kerosene fuel early this morning and liquid oxygen over the past hour. The second stage was loaded with its storable nitrogen tetroxide and Aerozine 50 fuels a week ago last Friday; and the third stage and strap-on booster rockets are solid-propellant.
The countdown currently stands at T-minus 40 minutes. There is a 20-minute hold upcoming at T-minus 20 minutes, then a 10-minute, 40-second hold at T-minus 4 minutes.
There are no technical problems being worked and the weather remains "go" for launch.
1456 GMT (10:56 a.m. EDT)
The Delta 2 rocket's first stage liquid oxygen tank has been topped off at 100 percent. The tank will be replenished through the remainder of the countdown to replace the cryogenic liquid oxygen that naturally boils away.
1451 GMT (10:51 a.m. EDT)
The "rapid load" phase of filling the first stage liquid oxygen tank has been completed to the 95-percent level. The slower "fine load" is now beginning to reach the 99-percent mark, which is then followed by topping off the tank to 100 percent.
1443 GMT (10:43 a.m. EDT)
Today's two-minute launch window for the Delta 2 rocket with Genesis opens 90 minutes from now. Boeing is not reporting any problems and the weather remains "go" for liftoff.
1431 GMT (10:31 a.m. EDT)
Super-cold liquid oxygen, chilled to Minus-298 degrees F, is being pumped into the first stage of the Boeing Delta 2 rocket as the countdown continues for today's launch attempt. The liquid oxygen is flowing from a storage tank at pad 17A, through plumbing and into the bottom of the rocket. The LOX and the RP-1 kerosene fuel loaded aboard the vehicle early this morning will be guzzled by the first stage main engine during the initial four-and-a-half minutes of flight.
1418 GMT (10:18 a.m. EDT)
Mission officials are receiving an updated weather briefing from Launch Weather Officer Johnny Weems. The forecast still looks promising and all launch weather rules are currently being met. The weather status check is a routine activity at this point in the countdown in preparation for loading the Delta 2 rocket's first stage with liquid oxygen. The tanking process is scheduled to begin in about 10 miutes.
1313 GMT (9:13 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 150 minutes. The Terminal Countdown begins at this time for the launch of the Boeing Delta 2 rocket and NASA's Genesis spacecraft. Over the next three hours, the launch team will prep the rocket, payload and ground support systems for the planned 12:13:40 p.m. EDT (1613:40 GMT) liftoff from pad 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
With the countdown underway, the Complex 17 area will be cleared of workers as a safety precaution. A warning horn will be sounded at the seaside complex to alert personnel to depart and head back to road blocks.
Upcoming in the next few minutes, launch team members in the Delta Operations Building, or "soft blockhouse", located about eight miles west of the pad will oversee the pressurization of helium and nitrogen storage tanks inside the rocket's first and second stages, along with the second stage fuel and oxidizer tanks. In addition, the Delta's onboard guidance computer -- called the Redundant Inertial Flight Control Assembly or RIFCA -- will be turned on and configured for the mission.
The weather forecast has been improved to a 90 percent chance of acceptable conditions. There is just a slight concern of cumulus clouds prohibiting launch.
1050 GMT (6:50 a.m. EDT)
The 12-story mobile service tower has been rolled away from the Boeing Delta 2 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's launch pad 17A this morning as the countdown marches forward for liftoff at 12:13:40 p.m. EDT.
The metal cocoon-like structure is used to assemble the Delta 2 on the seaside pad, as well as providing workers access to all reaches on the vehicle and weather protection for the rocket. Rollback of the tower represents a major milestone on the road to prepare for launch.
Workers will now get the tower secured into its launch position and configure the pad for liftoff.
Looking ahead to some of the key events today: Launch officials will take their positions on console shortly at about 8 a.m., and the countdown clock will pause for 60 minutes at the T-minus 150 minute mark at 8:13 a.m. The clocks are scheduled to begin ticking down at 9:13 a.m. EDT, signaling the start of the Terminal Countdown. The loading of cryogenic liquid oxygen into the first stage is expected to commence at about 10:30 a.m.
Two built-in holds are planned during Terminal Count. The first will occur at T-minus 20 minutes for a duration of 20 minutes; the second happens at T-minus 4 minutes and should last 10 minutes, 40 seconds to synch up with the opening of the launch window at 12:13:40 a.m. EDT.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, 2001
All systems remain "go" for Wednesday's try to launch the Genesis solar wind sample return probe atop a Boeing Delta 2 rocket. Overnight workers are slated to once again fuel the vehicle's first stage with RP-1 kerosene, then roll back the mobile service tower of launch pad 17A at about 6:30 a.m. EDT. The countdown will begin at 9:13 a.m. EDT leading to liftoff at precisely 12:13:40 p.m. EDT at the opening of a two-minute window.
Air Force weather forecasters are calling for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions.
We will have complete live countdown and launch coverage throughout the day.
MONDAY, AUGUST 6, 2001
1658 GMT (12:58 p.m. EDT)
Officials have secured an attempt to launch the Boeing Delta 2 rocket with Genesis on Wednesday, squeezing in the shot one day before space shuttle Discovery's scheduled liftoff. The announcement of the new launch date was made today after Boeing and NASA were able to book the attempt on the Air Force-controlled Eastern Range.
The Range, which provides safety, tracking and communications services for all Cape launches, determined today it could support the Delta on Wednesday and reconfigure systems in time for the shuttle on Thursday.
This decision comes following the launch of a Titan 4B rocket from Cape Canaveral earlier this morning that had previously reserved the Range on Tuesday for a backup attempt. With that no longer needed, the Range was freed up to support the Delta on Wednesday.
Under the new game plan, Delta will get just one attempt on Wednesday before standing down for Discovery, which will have have two back-to-back days of launch opportunities on the Range on Thursday and Friday.
Genesis' two-minute launch window on Wednesday opens at 12:13:40 p.m. EDT. The weather forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions.
Read our earlier status center coverage.