WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING 7 NOVEMBER 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
- This week, the final two solar arrays were successfully installed on the Gravity Probe B space vehicle. The installation of each of the four solar arrays was a 3-day process. First the guard tank was filled with liquid helium. Then, the space vehicle was rotated and prepared for the installation, and then the solar ray was then installed. .
- Functional deployment testing of the first array was completed successfully, and testing of each of the other arrays is in process.
- The dewar was sealed three 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 1.7175 K, which is well within the expected rate of rise.
- All other space vehicle preparation activities at Vandenberg are proceeding on schedule, as planned.
- On Monday, local press and media representatives will have an opportunity to interview key members of the Gravity Probe B team at Vandenberg AFB, and they will be able to suit up and take photos of the space vehicle in the clean room, where it is being readied for launch.
Photos: The top image shows two of the four solar arrays in place on the Gravity Probe B space vehicle. The lower photo is a close-up of the array installation. Parts of both photos have been pilxelated in compliance with ITAR regulations. ITAR is the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations law that forbids US citizens from allowing any foreign national to acquire sensitive technology. Click on the thumbnail of either photo to view view it full size.