GLAST spacecraft arrives in Florida to prepare for launch

March 7, 2008
GLAST spacecraft arrives in Florida to prepare for launch
In the Astrotech payload processing facility, General Dynamics technicians watch as GLAST is moved toward a work stand (left) to check GLAST's scientific instruments. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA’s Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, arrived Tuesday at the Astrotech payload processing facility near the Kennedy Space Center to begin final preparations for launch. Liftoff of GLAST aboard a Delta II rocket is currently targeted for 11:45 a.m. EDT on May 16.

GLAST is a collaborative mission with the U.S. Department of Energy, international partners from France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden, and numerous academic institutions from the U.S. and abroad. The spacecraft will explore the most extreme environments in the universe, and answer questions about supermassive black hole systems, pulsars and the origin of cosmic rays. It also will study the mystery of powerful explosions known as gamma-ray bursts.

The milestones to be accomplished over the next two months include attaching the Ku-band communications antenna and the two sets of solar arrays, a complete checkout of GLAST’s scientific instruments, installing the spacecraft’s battery, and loading aboard the observatory’s propellant. These activities will be performed by General Dynamics, builder of the spacecraft for NASA. GLAST currently is scheduled to be transported to Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 1.

The rocket that will launch GLAST is a Delta II 7920-H, manufactured and prepared for launch by United Launch Alliance. It is a heavier-lift model of the standard Delta II that uses larger solid rocket boosters. The first stage is scheduled to be erected on Pad 17-B the week of March 17.

The following week, the nine strap-on solid rocket boosters will be raised and attached. The second stage, which burns hypergolic propellants, will be hoisted atop the first stage in late March. Next, the fairing that will surround the spacecraft will be hoisted into the clean room of the mobile service tower.

Engineers will perform several tests of the Delta II. In late April, the first stage will loaded with liquid oxygen and checked for leaks. The following day, a simulated flight test will be performed, testing the vehicle’s post-liftoff flight events without fuel aboard. The electrical and mechanical systems of the entire Delta II will be exercised during this test.

Once the GLAST payload is atop the launch vehicle, a final major test will be performed. The combined minus count and plus count test simulates all events as they will occur on launch day, but without propellants aboard the vehicle.

The NASA Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center is responsible for the countdown and launch management of the Delta II GLAST mission.

Source: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Explore further: Delta II Rocket Coming Together for NASA's GLAST Satellite Launch

Related Stories

GLAST Set to Launch Wednesday to Study Cosmic Mysteries

June 10, 2008

In a final meeting of scientists, engineers, technicians and officials, NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) received the final "Ready to Go!" from all teams. GLAST is scheduled to launch on a United Launch ...

Excitement Builds as GLAST Readies Its Gamma-ray Vision

May 30, 2008

Scientists around the world are excited about all the things that the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, is going to uncover after it launches on June 5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

NASA's GLAST gets shades, blankets for the beach

May 13, 2008

GREENBELT, Md. - NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, is receiving finishing touches at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, near the beaches of eastern central Florida for its launch. The spacecraft is ...

NASA's Glast mission one step closer to launch

April 11, 2007

NASA's next major space observatory, the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), is one step closer to unveiling the mysteries of the high-energy universe. Almost all the components have been assembled onto the spacecraft, ...

Recommended for you

Earth might have hairy dark matter

November 23, 2015

The solar system might be a lot hairier than we thought. A new study publishing this week in the Astrophysical Journal by Gary Prézeau of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, proposes the existence of ...

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...

Scientists detect stellar streams around Magellanic Clouds

November 23, 2015

(—Astronomers from the University of Cambridge, U.K., have detected a number of narrow streams and diffuse debris clouds around two nearby irregular dwarf galaxies called the Magellanic Clouds. The research also ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.