WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING 31 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 following activities were completed at VAFB this past week:
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE OPERATIONS
- The first of four solar arrays was successfully installed on the Gravity Probe B space vehicle this week, and installation of the second solar array in in progress. Installing each solar array is a 3-day process. First the guard tank is filled with liquid helium. Then, the space vehicle is rotated and prepared for the installation. The solar ray is installed and a functional deployment test is performed. This process is repeated for each solar array.
- Operations were completed on the Forward Equipment Enclosure (FEE). Metallic skins were attached, and then the FEE was enclosed with a multi-layer thermal insulation blanket, in preparation for launch.
- The dewar was sealed two weeks ago at a temperature of 1.648 K. The temperature of the dewar is rising very slowly, but is expected to remain less than 1.88 K at launch time. The current temperature of the dewar is 1.695 K, which is well within the expected rate of rise.
- All other space vehicle preparation activities at Vandenberg are proceeding on schedule, as planned.
Photos: The top image shows the first solar array in place on the Gravity Probe B space vehicle. The lower photo is a doctored close-up of the array installation. Click on the thumbnail of either photo to view view it full size.