WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING 19 DECEMBER 2003:
NEW LAUNCH DATE SET FOR GRAVITY PROBE B
On December 15, 2004, NASA's Flight Planning Board met and set a new launch date of Tuesday, April 20, 2004, for the Gravity Probe B spacecraft. The exact time of launch has not yet been determined, but it will be around 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE OPERATIONS THIS WEEKThe following activities were completed at VAFB this past week:
- The Gravity Probe B spacecraft has is being maintained in a stand-down state, awaiting the return of the reworked Experiment Control Unit (ECU).
- The temperature of the dewar's main tank is 1.8194 K. The guard tank was filled to a level of 71%. The heat rate is 23.3 mw.
- The Well ( space between the probe and the dewar) was re-pumped to maintain the necessary vacuum.
- The battery charge is being monitored continuously during the stand-down period.
- The Delta II launch vehicle, with the solid motors attached, will remain on the launch pad, surrounded by the mobile service tower (MST), for the duration of the repair period.
- The ECU power bracket, including the faulty voltage conversion circuitry, has been re-worked and fabrication of a new power bracket was completed.
- Re-work of a filter board was completed.
- These new units will be given a conformal coating, and testing will begin on them next week.
- The re-working is proceeding smoothly and ahead of schedule.
Photos: In the upper photo, Lockheed Martin photographer Russ Underwood captured the Gravity Probe B spacecraft on November 10, 2003 (Press Day) from a high perch in the vehicle processing room. Assuming that the reworking and testing of the ECU continues on schedule, the spacecraft will be returned to this launch-ready state by March, 2004. The lower photo shows the ECU (black box), which was removed from the spacecraft, on a test bench at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, CA. Click on the thumnails to view enlargements of the photos.
VIDEO CLIP FROM THE SPACE VEHICLE PREPARATION ROOM AT VAFB ON GP-B PRESS DAY (11/10/2003)