MESSENGER Status Report

June 29, 2004

With the successful launch of the Air Force Delta/GPS mission last week, MESSENGER's launch has been rescheduled and is now targeted to occur August 2. While the previous launch date of July 30 may have been achievable, the additional margin now being built into the schedule will provide greater confidence in meeting this new launch date.

MESSENGER is undergoing prelaunch testing and final assembly at the Astrotech Space Operations facilities near Kennedy Space Center. On June 28 the spacecraft was moved to a hazardous processing facility in preparation for loading the spacecraft's complement of hypergolic propellants. Fueling is underway today and will conclude July 1.

The spacecraft's two solar arrays were installed on June 24-25 and a deployment test was conducted. Installation of thermal blankets continues. Spacecraft spin balance testing is planned for July 7.

Autonomy testing of the spacecraft has been successfully completed and MESSENGER is verified to operate independently when not in direct contact with Earth. The spacecraft Mission Readiness Review was completed June 24 without any major issues remaining to be resolved.

The stacking of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle on pad 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is planned to begin on Wednesday, June 30, with the hoisting of the first stage atop the launcher. Attachment of the nine strap-on solid rocket boosters in sets of three will be performed July 1-6. The second stage is scheduled to be hoisted into position atop the first stage on July 8.

There are no technical issues or concerns with MESSENGER or its associated Delta II at this time. The launch period for MESSENGER extends through August 13.

(From a Kennedy Space Center news release)