Boeing Delta II Rocket Successfully Launches
NASA GENESIS Solar Wind Collector
By Cliff Lethbridge
Photo Credit: Spaceline, Inc.
Click Here To View NASA Photos Of This Launch
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL (August 8, 2001) - A Boeing Delta II (Model 7326) rocket successfully launched the NASA GENESIS solar wind collector spacecraft at 12:13 p.m. EDT today from Launch Pad 17A. Launch was originally scheduled for July 30 but was postponed to allow troubleshooting of power supply equipment aboard the GENESIS spacecraft in light of similar components that were found to be defective during recent factory testing. Although the mission was cleared for launch just 48 hours later, a launch attempt on August 1 was scrubbed due to a thick bank of clouds over the launch pad. Bad weather associated with Tropical Storm Barry in the Gulf of Mexico prompted another 48-hour delay, but a launch attempt on August 3 was scrubbed due to thick clouds and rain in the Cape Canaveral area.
Due to previously scheduled Titan IVB and Space Shuttle launch activity, the GENESIS launch was rescheduled for August 12, just two days before the current GENESIS mission launch period cutoff date of August 14. To avoid this nailbiting scenario and avoid a possibly lengthy and expensive launch delay of months, NASA requested that GENESIS be scheduled for launch 48 hours after a scheduled Titan IVB launch on August 6 and 24 hours before the planned launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on August 9. The Titan IVB launch occurred as scheduled on August 6, clearing GENESIS for a launch attempt today, and launch occurred as scheduled with no delays.
GENESIS marks another mission in the NASA Discovery scientific series, intended to study the dynamics of the solar system. The spacecraft main structure is 7.5 feet long by 6.6 feet wide with a solar array wingspan measuring 22 feet from tip to tip. The sample return capsule measures 4.9 feet in diameter by 52 inches tall. At liftoff, the entire weight of the spacecraft was 1,402 pounds, including 1,089 pounds of hardware and 313 pounds of fuel. Science instruments include solar wind collector arrays, ion concentrator, ion monitor and electron monitor. Maximum electrical power of 254 watts is produced by a nickel-hydrogen battery.
The spacecraft is expected to achieve a solar orbit at an approximate distance of 1.5 million miles from Earth in November, 2001. Collection of solar wind particles is expected to begin in October, 2001 and continue through April, 2004. During that time, GENESIS will complete five orbits around the sun, picking up minute particles that are present in the solar wind. Following its mission, the spacecraft will be fired on a return trajectory toward Earth. If all goes according to plan, the GENESIS sample return capsule will parachute toward Earth over the Utah Test and Training Range near Salt Lake City, where it will be captured by helicopter using a special mid-air capture device. Recovery is expected to occur in September, 2004.
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