BY JUSTIN RAY

Follow the countdown and launch of the Boeing Delta 2 rocket with NASA's Mars Exploration Rover-B. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

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Video coverage for subscribers only:
   VIDEO: 5-MINUTE MOVIE OF DELTA LAUNCHING OPPORTUNITY QT
   VIDEO: ONBOARD CAMERA THROUGH FIRST STAGE CUTOFF QT
   VIDEO: CAPE CANAVERAL PRESS SITE REPLAY QT
   VIDEO: TRACKING CAMERA VIEW FROM PATRICK AFB QT
   VIDEO: POWERFUL TRACKER FOLLOWS THE ROCKET QT
   VIDEO: VIEW FROM THE SKID STRIP RUNWAY QT
   VIDEO: LAUNCH MANAGER RECAPS COUNTDOWN AND ASCENT QT
   VIDEO: STATUS OF OPPORTUNITY ANNOUNCED AFTER LAUNCH QT
   VIDEO: MONDAY'S ROLLBACK OF MOBILE SERVICE TOWER QT
   PHOTOS: 8-PICTURE GALLERY FROM ONBOARD CAMERA OPEN

   VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE VIEW OF MOBILE SERVICE TOWER ROLLBACK QT
   VIDEO: NARRATED MOVIE SHOWS 'OPPORTUNITY' LAUNCH PREPS QT
   VIDEO: FOOTAGE OF DELTA 2 ROCKET BEING STACKED QT
   VIDEO: ONBOARD CAMERA VIEW OF MER-A "SPIRIT" LAUNCH QT
   PHOTOS: 19-PICTURE GALLERY FROM "SPIRIT" ONBOARD CAMERA OPEN
   FULL VIDEO COLLECTION
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TUESDAY, JULY 8, 2003
Recovering from a last-second cliffhanger delay, NASA finally launched its second state-of-the-art rover to Mars late Monday, sending the $400 million "Opportunity" spacecraft on its way atop a hot-rod Delta 2 rocket that lighted the night sky for dozens of miles around. Read our full story.

0502 GMT (1:02 a.m. EDT)
Richard Brace, the deputy project manager for NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, reports that Opportunity appears to be in good shape and where it should be in space.

0459 GMT (12:59 a.m. EDT)
The depletion has been completed. This safes the stage to guard against orbital debris concerns.

Meanwhile, Mars rover controllers are assessing the health of Opportunity following tonight's launch.

0458 GMT (12:58 a.m. EDT)
The second stage is firing again for the depletion burn. Good chamber pressure reported.

0456 GMT (12:56 a.m. EDT)
The Delta 2 rocket's spent second stage will be performing a burn to deplete its remaining fuel supply in about two minutes. It is remotely possible that the south-central U.S. could see a small comet-like object in the sky during this engine firing.

0443 GMT (12:43 a.m. EDT)
SPACECRAFT ACQUISITION! A ground station in Goldstone, California, has picked up the signal from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

0441 GMT (12:41 a.m. EDT)
SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has embarked on its 283-million-mile, seven-month trek for the Red Planet! The spacecraft has been released from the Delta rocket's third stage following launch tonight from Cape Canaveral.

Liftoff occurred at 11:18:15 p.m. EDT.

0440 GMT (12:40 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 82 minutes. The Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is tracking the mission now.

0439 GMT (12:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 81 minutes, 30 seconds. Just over a minute away from spacecraft deployment.

0438 GMT (12:38 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 80 minutes. The Air Force's Hawaii tracking station is currently following the rocket, relaying good data back to Cape Canaveral.

0436 GMT (12:36 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 77 minutes, 57 seconds. TECO. Burnout of the solid-fueled third stage has occurred, completing the powered phase of launch for Mars rover Opportunity aboard the Delta 2 rocket. Separation of the payload is about four minutes away.

0436 GMT (12:36 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 77 minutes, 45 seconds. Proper chamber pressure reported from the third stage.

0435 GMT (12:35 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 77 minutes, 25 seconds. The Delta 2 rocket's solid-fueled third stage is burning well.

0434 GMT (12:34 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 76 minutes, 35 seconds. The third stage has ignited!

0434 GMT (12:34 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 76 minutes. The solid-fueled Star 48B third stage with the attached Mars rover has separated from the Delta 2's second stage.

0433 GMT (12:33 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 75 minutes, 50 seconds. Spin-up is now underway.

0433 GMT (12:33 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 75 minutes, 2 seconds. SECO 2. The liquid-fueled Aerojet AJ10-118K engine has fired, raising the orbital altitude. Over the next minute, tiny thrusters on the side of the rocket will be fired to spin up the vehicle in preparation for stage separation.

0432 GMT (12:32 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 74 minutes. This second burn of the second stage continues to go well.

0431 GMT (12:31 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 73 minutes. The second stage engine chamber pressure looks good. Data is now being received via the the Air Force's Deployable Telemetry Station at Johnston Atoll.

0430 GMT (12:30 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 72 minutes, 20 seconds. Engine ignition! The second stage is up and firing again.

0429 GMT (12:29 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 71 minutes, 30 seconds. The settling jets are now on. Standing by for second stage restart.

0428 GMT (12:28 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 70 minutes. The data quality from Kwajalein is reported good by Boeing's Ted Jones in the telemetry receiving lab at Cape Canaveral. Engine ignition is about two minutes away for the Delta 2's second stage.

0425 GMT (12:25 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 67 minutes, 20 seconds. The U.S. Army's station at Kwajalein Atoll is now tracking the Delta 2 rocket as it passes across the western Pacific Ocean.

0422 GMT (12:22 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 64 minutes. Kwajalein should be acquiring the Delta 2 rocket's signal within the next few minutes.

0418 GMT (12:18 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 1 hour. The Delta 2 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral's pad 17B some 60 minutes ago on a mission to dispatch NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity to the Red Planet. Another firing of rocket's second stage and the third stage burn are still ahead. The spacecraft will be deployed from the third stage to complete the launch sequence over the Pacific Ocean within the next 20 minutes or so.

To this point, everything has progressed well with the flight.

0348 GMT (11:48 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 30 minutes. The rocket is coasting until the second stage restarts more than a half-hour from now for a two-and-a-half minute firing. That will be followed by separation between the second and third stages. The upper stage will burn to propel the Mars Rover into its escape trajectory for the trek to Mars.

0342 GMT (11:42 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 24 minutes. The Delta 2 has flown out of range from Ascension. The rocket will be picked up through the U.S. Army's tracking station at Kwajalein Atoll in the western Pacific about 40 minutes from now.

0340 GMT (11:40 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 22 minutes, 30 seconds. Engineers at Cape Canaveral have been able to receive some data from the Delta 2 rocket via the Ascension Island tracking station out in the Atlantic. A normal coast mode appears to be underway aboard the launch vehicle.

0333 GMT (11:33 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 15 minutes. The Kwajalein tracking site will be next to acquire the Delta 2 rocket's signal in about 50 minutes.

0330 GMT (11:30 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 12 minutes, 30 seconds. The rocket has passed out of the Antigua tracking site's coverage zone. The rocket will be out of range until it reaches the Pacific Ocean for restart of the second stage engine.

0329 GMT (11:29 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 11 minutes. The debut flight of Boeing's Delta 2-Heavy rocket, featuring the larger and more powerful strap-on solid rocket motors built by Alliant Techsystems, has progressed successfully to this point.

Performance of the second stage shows a second-and-a-half longer burn. But that is no problem. The data also shows the vehicle's velocity is right on the mark.

0327 GMT (11:27 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 9 minutes, 30 seconds. SECO 1. The second stage engine has shut down as planned. The Delta 2 rocket with Mars rover has arrived in a preliminary orbit around Earth following launch tonight.

0327 GMT (11:27 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 9 minutes. Boeing has updated the official liftoff time to 11:18:15.170 p.m. EDT.

0325 GMT (11:25 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 7 minutes, 40 seconds. Taking a look back at the first stage performance, Boeing reports the stage burned about a second-and-a-half longer than expected. But that is well within margin. Everything looks good to this point.

0325 GMT (11:25 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 7 minutes. The official Range liftoff time was 11:18:15.070 p.m. EDT.

0324 GMT (11:24 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 6 minutes, 25 seconds. The rocket has moved within range of the Antigua tracking station. Second stage engine chamber pressure reported normal.

0324 GMT (11:24 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 6 minutes. Altitude 77 miles, downrange distance 623 miles, speed 14,700 miles per hour.

0323 GMT (11:23 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 5 minutes. The protective payload fairing enclosing the Mars Opportunity rover spacecraft atop the rocket has separated.

0323 GMT (11:23 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 4 minutes, 45 seconds. The Aerojet AJ118-K liquid-fueled second stage engine has ignited.

0322 GMT (11:22 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 4 minutes, 35 seconds. MECO. The Delta 2 rocket's Rocketdyne RS-27A first stage main engine has shut down and the spent stage has been jettisoned.

0322 GMT (11:22 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 4 minutes. Coming up on first stage engine cutoff.

0321 GMT (11:21 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 3 minutes, 30 seconds. The Delta 2-Heavy rocket, with its larger Alliant-made solid rocket boosters, has performed well so far.

0320 GMT (11:20 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 2 minutes, 40 seconds. The three air-start solid rocket boosters have burned out and separated. The rocket continues its trek to orbit on the power of the first stage liquid-fueled main engine.

0320 GMT (11:20 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 2 minutes. Good thrust reported on the air-lit solids.

0319 GMT (11:19 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 1 minute, 30 seconds. All six ground-start solid rocket boosters have burned out and separated. The three remaining motors strapped to first stage have ignited to continue assisting the rocket's RS-27A main engine on the climb to space.

0319 GMT (11:19 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 45 seconds. The vehicle has passed Mach 1, traveling faster than the speed of sound.

0318 GMT (11:18 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 30 seconds. The main engine chamber pressure looks good.

0318 GMT (11:18 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T+plus 20 seconds. The 126-foot tall Delta rocket has maneuvered to its 99-degree flight heading for the eastward track away from Cape Canaveral. The six ground-lit solid rocket motors and liquid-fueled first stage main engine are all firing.

0318 GMT (11:18 p.m. EDT Mon.)
LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Delta 2 rocket launching Earth's Opportunity to uncover the watery history of Mars. And the tower is clear!

0317 GMT (11:17 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 30 seconds. Hydraulics and electronics status checks are 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 six ground-lit solid rocket motors then light at T-0 for liftoff.

0317:25 GMT (11:17:25 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 50 seconds. Liquid oxygen topping has reached 100 percent.

0317:15 GMT (11:17:15 p.m. EDT Mon.)
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.

0316 GMT (11:16 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 2 minutes. 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.

0316 GMT (11:16 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 2 minutes, 5 seconds. The Mars Opportunity rover spacecraft has been declared "go" for launch.

0315 GMT (11:15 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The rocket's third stage safety destruct safe and arm devices are being armed. Also, the solid rocket booster ignition and separation systems are being armed.

0314 GMT (11:14 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 3 minutes, 40 seconds and counting. The Delta 2 rocket's systems are now transferring to internal power for launch.

0314:15 GMT (11:14:15 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 4 minutes and counting! The countdown has resumed for another attempt to launch the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket. Liftoff is scheduled to occur at 11:18:15 p.m. EDT from pad 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

0313:15 GMT (11:13:15 p.m. EDT Mon.)
One minute remaining in the hold.

0312 GMT (11:12 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Now six minutes from launch. The Opportunity rover is returning to internal power for its voyage to Mars.

0311 GMT (11:11 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The latest cycling test of the valve indicated no problems.

0310 GMT (11:10 p.m. EDT Mon.)
More testing of the fill and drain valve is being planned. If the unit continues to work properly, officials hope to launch Mars rover Opportunity at 11:18:15 p.m. EDT tonight.

0309 GMT (11:09 p.m. EDT Mon.)
There are five minutes remaining in this hold at the T-minus 4 minute mark.

0308 GMT (11:08 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The launch team has been re-polled by the Boeing launch conductor for another countdown. No problems were reported. Liftoff is set for 11:18:15 p.m. EDT.

0308 GMT (11:08 p.m. EDT Mon.)
NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez has polled his team. The space agency is ready for liftoff.

0307 GMT (11:07 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The update upper level wind conditions have been loaded into the vehicle for the 11:18 p.m. EDT launch time.

0304 GMT (11:04 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The launch team reports the valve is operating correctly during these tests.

The countdown must resume in 10 minutes.

0302 GMT (11:02 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The liquid oxygen fill and drain is now being cycled through its closed and opened positions to see how the valve performs. The valve failed to close fully during the countdown about a half-hour ago, forcing clocks to halt at approximately T-minus 7 seconds.

0300:15 GMT (11:00:15 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Now 18 minutes away from the next available launch time. The countdown is currently holding at T-minus 4 minutes. So clocks must resume at 11:14:15 p.m. EDT before time runs out tonight.

0258 GMT (10:58 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The first stage liquid oxygen fill and drain valve was sluggish and did not close fully during the countdown, prompting the hold during tonight's initial launch attempt. By running a test to cycle the valve a couple of times, engineers will get more information before determining if liftoff is possible at 11:18 p.m. EDT.

0256 GMT (10:56 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Engineers may elect to cycle that liquid oxygen fill and drain valve a couple of times as part of test to gather more data.

0254 GMT (10:54 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The software updates for the new launch time have been loaded into the rocket. Also, the tracking assets in the Pacific are reconfiguring for tonight's second and final available launch time.

If launch does not occur at 11:18:15 p.m., liftoff will be delayed 24 hours.

0252 GMT (10:52 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The resetting of the Delta 2's guidance system software with the updated mission constants is underway. This readies the rocket to fly on a 99-degree flight azimuth for the 11:18:15 p.m. EDT launch time tonight. The night's first launch opportunity would have taken a 93-degree heading.

0250 GMT (10:50 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Troubleshooting of the glitch with fill and drain valve is proceeding. The valve is associated with the rocket's first stage liquid oxygen tank

0246 GMT (10:46 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The launch team is keeping open the option of making another liftoff attempt at 11:18 p.m. EDT. However, analysis of the fill and drain valve problem is continuing to determine the exact nature of the problem.

0242 GMT (10:42 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Recycle steps have been completed following the countdown abort at T-minus 7 seconds. The launch team is readying itself for performing the software updates to the Delta 2 rocket for tonight's second launch opportunity. If liftoff occurs at the second instantaneous liftoff time, at 11:18:15 p.m. EDT, the rocket will fly on a slightly different trajectory than would have been taken at 10:35 p.m.

0241 GMT (10:41 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The launch countdown sequence is being recycled to the T-minus 4 minute mark. If the fill and drain valve problem has been fixed, a second and final launch time is available tonight at 11:18 p.m. EDT.

0239 GMT (10:39 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The main propulsion system team called the hold in the countdown. Clocks were stopped at T-minus 7 seconds. A problem was noted with first stage liquid oxygen fill and drain valve, according to a NASA spokesman.

0237 GMT (10:37 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Once the safing operations are completed, officials will determine if the problem can be resolved in support of another launch attempt tonight. The backup launch time is 11:18 p.m. EDT.

0236 GMT (10:36 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The various vehicle systems and the Opportunity rover spacecraft are switching back to external power.

0235 GMT (10:35 p.m. EDT Mon.)
A problem has been reported with a fill and drain valve. Safing procedures have begun.

0235 GMT (10:35 p.m. EDT Mon.)
HOLD! Countdown clock has been stopped!

0234 GMT (10:34 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 30 seconds. Hydraulics and electronics status checks are 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 six ground-lit solid rocket motors then light at T-0 for liftoff.

0234 GMT (10:34 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 45 seconds. Liquid oxygen topping has reached 100 percent.

0234 GMT (10:34 p.m. EDT Mon.)
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.

0233 GMT (10:33 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 2 minutes. 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.

And the Mars rover spacecraft has been declared "go" for launch.

0232 GMT (10:32 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The rocket's safe and arm devices are being armed.

0231 GMT (10:31 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 3 minutes, 40 seconds and counting. The Delta 2 rocket's systems are now transferring to internal power for launch.

0231:23 GMT (10:31:23 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 4 minutes and counting. The Terminal Countdown has entered its final phase for tonight's launch of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket. Liftoff remains set to occur at 10:35:23 p.m. EDT from pad 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. No problems are standing in the way of the 299th Delta rocket launch.

0230:23 GMT (10:30:23 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Now less than five minutes from launch! Standing by for release of the hold in one minute.

0229 GMT (10:29 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The Mars rover spacecraft cargo atop the Delta 2 rocket has switched to internal power for launch.

0228 GMT (10:28 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The countdown will resume in three minutes.

The launch team is now receiving instructions for the rest of the countdown and safing operations.

0227 GMT (10:27 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The Boeing launch conductor has polled the entire launch team to ensure all is set for liftoff. "Ready" was the report from everyone.

0225 GMT (10:25 p.m. EDT Mon.)
NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez has performed his readiness poll. "NASA is ready to release the hold," Baez then reported.

He also said that flight termination battery has passed testing.

0221 GMT (10:21 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 4 minutes and holding. The countdown has entered the final planned hold point for tonight's launch attempt. During this 10-minute, 23-second hold, officials will poll the various team members in the soft blockhouse, Range Operations Control Center and Mission Directors Center. If all systems are go, the countdown will resume for liftoff at 10:35:23 p.m. EDT.

0219 GMT (10:19 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The launch pad's facility water tanks are now being pressurized.

Also, Launch Weather Office Joel Tumbiolo has verified the local conditions are "go" for liftoff tonight.

0216 GMT (10:16 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The first stage fuel tank vent is being closed and the tank is being pressurized for launch.

Also, the latest weather balloon run has revealed acceptable wind conditions aloft.

0215 GMT (10:15 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 10 minutes and counting. The safety checks have been completed.

0212 GMT (10:12 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Inhibited checks are now beginning for the Range Safety command destruct receivers that would be used in destroying the Delta rocket should the vehicle malfunction during the launch.

0205 GMT (10:05 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The planned pause in the countdown has been completed. Clocks will now tick down to T-minus 4 minutes where the final hold is scheduled. That hold will last 10 minutes and 23 seconds, leading to tonight's launch time of 10:35:23 p.m. EDT.

0201 GMT (10:01 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The launch team poll to pick up the countdown has been performed. The count is set to resume at 10:05 p.m. EDT as planned.

0158 GMT (9:58 p.m. EDT Mon.)
NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez has just completed a poll of the space agency's management team for a readiness to continue with the countdown. "We are currently working no issues on the Range, vehicle or elsewhere."

0155 GMT (9:55 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Now half-way through this built-in hold at T-minus 20 minutes. A series of readiness polls of the various teams will be performed upcoming in the next few minutes before the countdown picks up again.

0149 GMT (9:49 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Launch Weather Officer Joel Tumbiolo has just completed another briefing. There are no real worries at this time. The cloudiness around the area is continuing to push to the south. Also, there is nothing new on the radar. He is still predicting a 90 percent chance of meeting the weather rules tonight.

0145 GMT (9:45 p.m. EDT Mon.)
T-minus 20 minutes and holding. The countdown has entered the 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. Engineers will also have time to examine all the date from the just-completed steering tests.

Launch is still slated for 10:35 p.m. EDT.

0142 GMT (9:42 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The gimbal checks of the Delta 2 rocket's first stage main engine nozzle is now finished.

The countdown will be going into a planned hold at the T-minus 20 minute mark in just three minutes.

0138 GMT (9:38 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The second stage steering checks have been completed. First stage testing is now underway.

0135 GMT (9:35 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The Mars Opportunity rover is now just 60 minutes away from the start of its 300-million-mile, seven-month journey from Earth to the Red Planet. Liftoff atop a three-stage Boeing Delta 2 rocket is precisely targeted for 10:35:23 p.m. EDT from pad 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida's east-central coast.

The launch team will soon begin the "slew" or steering checks of the first and second stage engines. These are gimbal tests of the nozzles on the first stage main engine and twin vernier engines and second stage engine to ensure the rocket will be able to steer itself during launch.

And in the next few minutes, RF link tests between the Range and rocket are scheduled.

0120 GMT (9:20 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The launch team reports the loading of the Delta 2 rocket's first stage liquid oxygen tank was completed at 9:20:07 p.m. EDT. The operation took 28 minutes and 31 seconds today. The tank will be replenished through the countdown to replace the super-cold liquid oxygen that naturally boils away.

The rocket is now fully fueled for launch. The vehicle's first stage was successfully loaded with RP-1 kerosene fuel along with the liquid oxygen over the past hour. The second stage was filled with its storable nitrogen tetroxide and Aerozine 50 fuels on June 26; the third stage and nine strap-on booster rockets are solid-propellant.

0111 GMT (9:11 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Now 20 minutes into the liquid oxygen loading.

0106 GMT (9:06 p.m. EDT Mon.)
Less than 90 minutes remain until liftoff.

Cryogenic tanking of the Delta rocket's first stage continues. Once the liquid oxygen tank reaches the 95 percent full level, the "rapid load" valve will be closed and the slower "fine load" phase will continue to fill the tank.

0101 GMT (9:01 p.m. EDT Mon.)
The bottom of the Boeing Delta 2 rocket is icing over as the super-cold liquid oxygen flows into the first stage. LOX loading has passed the 10-minute mark with no trouble reported in the tanking operation.

Read our earlier Mission Status Center coverage.

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Flight Data File
Vehicle: Delta 2 (7925-Heavy)
Payload: NASA's Mars Exploration Rover-B
Launch date: July 7, 2003
Launch times: 10:35:23 p.m. EDT and 11:18:15 p.m. EDT
Launch site: SLC-17B, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Satellite broadcast: AMC 2, Transponder 9, C-band

Pre-launch briefing

Mission preview - Our story examining the Mars Exploration Rover project.

Launch windows - A chart listing the daily launch times for MER-B.

Launch timeline No. 1 - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch if the first daily opportunity is used.

Launch timeline No. 2 - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch if the second daily opportunity is used.

Ground track - See the trajectory the rocket will follow during its flight.

Getting to Mars - Our story previewing the rovers' descent and landing to the Martian surface.

MER spacecraft - A technical look at the parts and pieces of the Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft.

Mission science - A look at the science instruments and objectives for the Mars rovers.

Future exploration - Our story looking at NASA's plans for Mars missions through the decade.

Delta 2 rocket - Overview of the Delta 2 Heavy-model rocket used in this launch.

SLC-17 - The launch complex where Delta rockets fly from Cape Canaveral.

Delta directory - See our coverage of previous Delta rocket flights.



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