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Archive for August, 2006


21-Aug-06 | STEREO delay, again

STEREO has been delayed again, this time until the opening of its next group of launch windows, no earlier than 18 September. Follow-up analysis of a similar second stage tank revealed that it “was marginally thin in an area of the oxidizer tank. Engineers are assessing several options for the STEREO launch vehicle… to determine the thickness of the tank in this same area.” Another round of de-stacking may be needed. The STEREO spacecraft have been stacked atop the Delta third stage and sealed inside a transportation canister, but will remain in the Astrotech payload processing facility until this issue can be resolved. (NASA ELV Status Report, 21-Aug-06)


18-Aug-06 | STEREO delay

STEREO continues to be delayed, but remains at the top of the launch schedule — currently no sooner than from now. This mission has had a total of seven delays since April for a series of minor glitches, including a small hydrazine leak on the Observatory A spacecraft and a faulty launch pad crane that prevented booster motor stacking. Most recently, a leak in a second-stage oxidizer tank at Boeing’s Decatur facility (intended for launching THEMIS later this year) means that all identical tanks must be checked. Unfortunately this means the second stage of the vehicle currently on the pad at SLC-17B must be de-stacked and taken to the High Pressure Test Facility, pushing the launch back by more than a week. Stacking of the spacecraft, previously planned for last week, has been put on hold while the second stage is in testing.


08-Aug-06 | STEREO booster checks out okay

Following de-stacking and pressure testing, the Delta II second stage has been given a clean bill of health and was remounted to the launch vehicle on Saturday, 5 August. Meanwhile, the STEREO spacecraft will be stacked on 9 August, put through spin testing during the following week, and mated to the Delta third stage motor on 16 August. (NASA ELV Status Report, 4-Aug-06)


02-Aug-06 | CALIPSO first photo

NASA has announced the first public image release from CALIPSO, showing the volcanic plume that resulted from a major lava dome collapse at the Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat in May.  (24-Jul-06 NASA Press Release)


02-Aug-06 | STEREO booster to be de-stacked

STEREO continues to be delayed, but remains at the top of the launch schedule for now. This mission has had a total of seven delays since April for a series of minor glitches, including a small hydrazine leak on the Observatory A spacecraft and a faulty launch pad crane that prevented booster motor stacking. Most recently, a leak in a second-stage oxidizer tank at Boeing’s Decatur facility (intended for launching THEMIS later this year) means that all identical tanks must be checked. Unfortunately this means the second stage of the vehicle currently on the pad at SLC-17B must be de-stacked and taken to the High Pressure Test Facility, pushing the launch back by more than a week. Stacking of the spacecraft, previously planned for last week, has been put on hold while the second stage is in testing.


     

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