WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING 3 OCTOBER 2003:
GRAVITY PROBE B LAUNCH STATUS
- The GP-B spacecraft is 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 is being maintained at a temperature of 1.65 Kelvin, with a better than expected rate of heat rise.
- A Launch Vehicle Readiness Review was conducted, and launch preparations are on track.
- Boeing received authorization to replace the nine solid booster rockets, and this activity will begin next week.
- 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 towards the top of the main rocket. Also, if you look closely, you can see the second stage motor at the base of the Mobile Service Tower (MST).
MINI SIMULATION COMPLETED AT STANFORD
This week, the Gravity Probe B team at Stanford successfully completed a mini simulation, exercising various contingency procedures. The main activity was the simulation of a set of procedures to abort spin-up of the on-board gyroscopes. The actual in-flight process of spinning up the gyrscopes will be done incrementally over the period of a week or more, and it involves a very complex set of procedures. Should any significant problems arise during this process, it is important that the mission operations team has practiced the procedures to abort the spin-up.
The simulation went very well and demonstrated that the GP-B Operations Team is prepared to handle such a contingency.
MEDIA TRAINING WORKSHOP COMPLETED AT MARSHALL SPACE FLIGHT CENTER
While the mission operations team was participating in a mini simulation, the top Gravity Probe B spokespersons from NASA Headquarters, Marshall Space Flight Center and Stanford University attended an all-day media training workshop at Marshall, where they were able to practice meeting with the press and media. The workshop went well and all who attended agreed that it was a very useful experience.