WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING 26 SEPTEMBER 2003:
GRAVITY PROBE B LAUNCH STATUS
- The GP-B satellite is now scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Saturday, December 6, 2003 at approximately 5:52 PM PST.
- The dewar, which is now 95% full of superfluid helium, has been sealed. It is being maintained at a temperature of 1.65 Kelvin, with a better than expected rate of heat rise.
- Boeing has erected the first stage, interstage and second stage on the launch pad.
- All other space vehicle preparation activities at Vandenberg are proceeding on schedule, as planned.
Photo: The Boeing Delta II booster rocket, standing on the launch pad. Click on the photo to view an enlargement. Notice the GP-B emblem at the top of the booster. Also, if you look closely, you can see the second stage at the base of the Mobile Service Tower (MST).
This week, the Gravity Probe B team successfully completed a four-day mission simulation. The simulation covered the following mission activities:
- Mission Day L: Launch activities, including pre-launch countdown, launch, solar ray deployment, and orbit attainment
- Mission Day L+1: Attitude control and acquisition of the guide start, IM Pegasi
- Mission Day L+35: Spin-up and pre-shaping of the fourth gyroscope to full speed (greater than 5,000 rpm)
- Mission Day L+42: Spin axis alignment of the gyroscope and transition to Science Data Collection mode
The simulation went extremely well and demonstrated that the GP-B Operations Team will be ready for the actual launch in December.
Photo: A collage of photos taken during Mission Simulation #7, with a model of the GP-B Space Vehicle superimposed in the center. Click on the thumbnail of the collage to view an enlarged version.