WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING 05 MARCH 2004:
GRAVITY PROBE B LAUNCH DATE
The official date for the Gravity Probe B space vehicle to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California is Saturday, April 17, 2004. The exact time of launch will be 10:09 AM Pacific Daylight Time.
We update these highlights every Friday, and we will post any new information about the launch on this Web site and on the GPB Update email list as soon as it becomes available.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE OPERATIONS THIS WEEK
- Dewar re-conditioning in preparation for launch was completed last week. The temperature of the dewar's main tank is 1.6777K, and the main tank is 95.5% full. The Guard Tank level is48.2%.
- Data analysis from regression testing on the reworked Experiment Control Unit (ECU) is almost complete. This analysis has confirmed that the ECU rework was successful, and the ECU is performing nominally.
- Installation of small pyrotechnic charges (ordinance) in the Forward Equipment Enclosure (FEE) has been completed, and the FEE is in the process of being closed up for launch.
- General functional testing of the spacecraft is continuing to proceed on schedule, and the spacecraft has been performing nominally.
- Re-installation of the solar arrays is scheduled to begin next Monday.
- The launch vehicle is surrounded by the Mobile Service Tower (MST) on the launch pad. Boeing technicians are preparing to power up the launch vehicle next Monday.
Photo: The GP-B Cryo group performing a sub-atmospheric transfer of liquid helium into the dewar's main tank. Click on the thumbnail to view an enlargement of the photo.
GRAVITY PROBE B IN THE NEWS
This week, a radio reporter from Oslo, Norway, visited Stanford University and interviewed several members of our GP-B team. His story about GP-B will soon be broadcast on Norwegian Public Radio.
On Tuesday, February 24, 2004, the Los Angeles Times newspaper ran a front page, column one story on Gravity Probe B. The story is posted in the Print Edition section of the L. A. Times Web site, but you must be registered on the L. A. Times Web site in order to view it. (Registration is free.)
On Sunday evening, December 28, 2003, the Cover story on the CBS Evening News was on the subject of time—examined from both human and cosmic perspectives. The story featured interviews with a manager from Torneau Time Machines (the largest watch store in New York City), physicist Brian Greene (a proponent of String Theory), and our own Gravity Probe B Principal Investigator, Francis Everitt. Typical of television news, the entire story lasted a little over three minutes, but it was heart warming to see Francis and our spacecraft on the national news. Perhaps the best sound byte from Francis was a quote from St. Augustine that CBS chose not to use: "What was God doing before he made heaven and earth? ... He was preparing hell for those that would pry into such profound mysteries."
RECEIVE GRAVITY PROBE B WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS BY EMAIL
If you are interested in automatically receiving these weekly highlights and other important GP-B mission information by email, you can subscribe to our Gravity Probe B Update email list by sending an email message to "majordomo@lists.Stanford.edu" with the command "subscribe gpb-update" in the body of the message (not in the Subject line). You can unsubscribe from this mailing list at any time by sending an email message to the same address with the command, "unsubscribe gpb-update" in the body of the message.