Impact Arrives in Florida to Prepare for Launch
Impact spacecraft has arrived in Florida to
begin final preparations for a launch on Dec.
30, 2004. The spacecraft was shipped from Ball
Aerospace & Technologies in Boulder, CO, to
the Astrotech Space Operations facility located
near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Impact has begun its journey to comet Tempel 1,"
said Rick Grammier, Deep Impact project manager
at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif. "First to Florida, then to space, and then
to the comet itself. It will be quite a journey
and one which we can all witness together."
In the clean room at Astrotech Space Operations
in Cape Canaveral, FL, workers oversee the
transfer of the Deep Impact spacecraft as
it moves to another stand. The spacecraft
will undergo functional testing to verify
its state of health the journey from Colorado.
This will be followed by loading updated
flight software and beginning a series of
Mission Readiness Tests.
Deep Impact spacecraft is designed to launch a
copper projectile into the surface of comet Tempel
1 on July 4, 2005, when the comet is 133.6 million
kilometers (83 million miles) from Earth. When
this 372-kilogram (820-pound) "impactor" hits
the surface of the comet at approximately 37,000
kilometers per hour (23,000 miles per hour), the
1-by-1 meter projectile (39-by-39 inches) will
create a crater that could be as large as a football
field. Deep Impact's "flyby" spacecraft will collect
pictures and data of the event. It will send the
data back to Earth through the antennas of the
Deep Space Network. Professional and amateur astronomers
on Earth will also be able to observe the material
flying from the comet's newly formed crater, adding
to the data an((d.images)) collected by the Deep Impact
spacecraft and other telescopes. Tempel 1 poses
no threat to Earth in the foreseeable future.
at Astrotech, Deep Impact is being removed from
its shipping container, the first of the numerous
milestones to prepare it for launch. Later this
week, the spacecraft will begin functional testing
to verify its state of health after the over-the-road
journey from Colorado. This will be followed by
loading updated flight software and beginning
a series of mission readiness tests. These tests
involve the entire spacecraft flight system that
includes the flyby and impactor, as well as the
associated science instruments and the spacecraft's
the high gain antenna used for spacecraft communications
will be installed. The solar array will then be
stowed and an illumination test performed as a
final check of its performance. Then, Deep Impact
will be ready for fueling preparations. Once this
is complete, the 976-kilogram spacecraft (2,152
pounds) will be mated atop the upper stage booster,
the Delta rocket's third stage. The integrated
stack will be installed into a transportation
canister in preparation for going to the launch
pad in mid- December.
at the pad and hoisted onto the Boeing Delta II
rocket, a brief functional test will be performed
to re-verify spacecraft state of health. Next
will be an integrated test with the Delta II before
installing the fairing around the spacecraft.
Impact mission scientists are confident that an
intimate glimpse beneath the surface of a comet,
where material and debris from the formation of
the solar system remain relatively unchanged,
will answer basic questions about the formation
of the solar system and offer a better look at
the nature and composition of these celestial
wanderers. Launch aboard the Boeing Delta II rocket
is scheduled to occur on Dec. 30 from Launch Complex
17 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch
window extends from 2:39 to 3:19 p.m. EST.
of Deep Impact's arrival and processing can be
found at the following URL. Additional photos
will be added to the page as they are available: