MESSENGER Status Report

April 29, 2004

MESSENGER's prelaunch testing continues at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Testing of the spacecraft's radio system uplink and downlinks through the Kennedy Space Center/Jet Propulsion Laboratory interface with the Deep Space Network has been successfully completed. Autonomy testing continues. This verifies MESSENGER's ability to operate on its own when not in direct contact with Earth. Installation of thermal blankets has been completed as required on the schedule up to this time.

Erection of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on Pad 17-B is currently scheduled to begin on June 18 with the erection of the first stage. The launch period for MESSENGER extends from July 30 through August 13.

(From a Kennedy Space Center news release)