WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS FOR WEEK ENDING 26 DECEMBER 2003:
NEW LAUNCH DATE SET FOR GRAVITY PROBE B
On December 15, 2003, 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/events occurred at VAFB this past week:
- On Monday, an earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter Scale rocked Southern California. There was no apparent damage to the GP-B spacecraft. However, the quake, which was centered in Cambria, CA, was very noticeable in the mid-coastal area and at VAFB.
- The Gravity Probe B spacecraft 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 1.8275 K. The guard tank was re-filled to a level of 82.8%. The heat rate is 23.3 mw.
- 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.
- A new ECU power bracket and filter board, which were fabricated last week, were given conformal coatings over the weekend and were inspected on Monday.
- A test setup is being readied, and over the course of the next week, these units will first undergo ambient testing, followed by thermal vacuum testing.
- The re-working of these ECU components is proceeding smoothly and on 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)