BY JUSTIN RAY
Follow the countdown and launch of the Boeing Delta 2 rocket with NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 24, 2003
The mobile service tower has been retracted from the rocket over the past few minutes. Workers will spend the next couple of hours getting the tower secured into position and performing the other various chores to ready the pad for launch. Special sound suppression equipment at pad 17B -- large exhaust ducts that tunnel away from the pad -- cannot be set up until after tower rollback since the structure's base blocks the pathways.
Officials are not reporting any significant problems and the weather forecast still looks favorable with an 80 percent chance of good conditions.
The Terminal Countdown is slated to start at 10:35 p.m. EDT (0235 GMT). The loading of RP-1 kerosene fuel into the rocket's first stage will begin a short time later, followed by first stage liquid oxygen tanking. There is just an instant in time that the rocket can be launched tonight -- 1:35:39 a.m. EDT (0535:39 GMT) -- or else the mission will have to wait 48 hours.
Earlier this afternoon, the cryogenic helium servicing of the Space Infrared Telescope Facility spacecraft was completed with the unhooking of the ground umbilicals. Should the liftoff be scrubbed at any point after the umbilical disconnection, another launch attempt cannot occur for 48 hours while the spacecraft is reserviced. So the next try would come no sooner than 2:03:09 a.m. EDT Wednesday.
2150 GMT (5:50 p.m. EDT)
The tower structure is used to assemble the rocket's various stages and boosters on the seaside pad. It also provides protection from the weather.
Some last-minute work on the rocket delayed the tower rollback a short time.
2107 GMT (5:07 p.m. EDT)
2042 GMT (4:42 p.m. EDT)
1720 GMT (1:20 p.m. EDT)
Launch Weather Officer Joel Tumbiolo has issued his latest forecast, which you can read here.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 23, 2003
Two separate engineering teams reached the same conclusion that -- although the two power and control boxes on the Delta 2 cannot be inspected at the launch pad -- the screening process for the units is highly reliable. That gave managers the confidence that the boxes on the rocket do not have loose capacitors like a similar unit in the factory, NASA spokesman George Diller said.
Pre-launch preparations continue for starting the countdown Sunday afternoon. Liftoff will occur at 1:35:39 a.m. EDT from pad 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
1630 GMT (12:30 p.m. EDT)
Mission officials will be meeting today to discuss the results of the power and control electronics box review. NASA is expected to announce the decision -- whether or not to proceed with launch on Monday morning -- sometime late this afternoon or early evening. We will update this page when news becomes available.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2003
A similar box in testing was found to have loose capacitors inside, prompting officials to ensure the units aboard the Delta 2 on the launch pad are free of concern. The review of records from boxes on the rocket will verify that they were produced at a different time and passed their checkout.
NASA Launch Manager Omar Baez said he was optimistic the issue would be put to rest on Saturday.
Otherwise, the launch vehicle and SIRTF spacecraft are ready to fly.
The weather forecast for Monday launch attempt is still favorable. See the forecast here.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2003
"It will be a photo finish," NASA spokesman George Diller said today. "But we are pressing on for a Monday launch."
Technicians at pad 17B began cryogenic liquid helium servicing of the SIRTF spacecraft today as planned.
The Launch Readiness Review is scheduled for Friday morning to give approval to start the countdown.
The weather forecast for Monday's predawn launch opportunity is favorable. See the forecast here.
Watch this page for comprehensive live coverage throughout the countdown and flight of the Delta 2 rocket. Our updates will begin Sunday afternoon with rollback of the mobile service tower from around the rocket.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2003
FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2003
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2003
THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2003
SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2003
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