MESSENGER Status Report

April 15, 2004

MESSENGER is at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near Kennedy Space Center, where it is undergoing prelaunch testing. Testing of the spacecraft's radio system uplink and downlinks through the Kennedy Space Center/Jet Propulsion Laboratory interface with the Deep Space Network continues. Autonomy testing is also continuing. This verifies MESSENGER's ability to operate on its own when not in direct contact with Earth. Installation of thermal blankets continues.

The spacecraft was moved from its current location in the hazardous processing facility, where it has been since arrival, to an adjacent non-hazardous payload processing facility on April 13. The remainder of its final assembly and testing will be completed there. The spacecraft will return to the hazardous processing facility when ready for fueling, spin balance testing and mating to the upper stage.

The erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is currently scheduled to begin on June 18 with the erection of the first stage.

(From a Kennedy Space Center news release)