WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING 10 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 1.67 Kelvin, with a better than expected rate of heat rise. Final topping off and sealing of the dewar is scheduled to commence next week.
- Testing of the SQUID readouts (Superconducting QUantum Interference Device) continued this week, and the tests are going well. The SQUIDS are ultra-sensitive magnetometers that can detect a change in the tilt of a spinning gyroscope to an angle of 0.1 milliarc-seconds—that's equivalent to viewing the width of a human hair at 100 miles!
- Boeing completed installation of all nine solid booster rockets.
- Functional testing of the space vehicle and its systems continued without issue.
- 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).
LAUNCH SCRUB MINI SIMULATION AT STANFORD
The Gravity Probe B team at Stanford successfully completed another mini simulation. This week, the mission operations team practiced the contingency procedures for scrubbing the launch. During this simulation, the team identified some adjustments that need to be made to the launch procedures, and these adjustments are now being implemented.