Launch of 'Opportunity' Aboard Delta II Postponed To July 7

For Release: July 5, 2003
George H. Diller Kennedy Space Center 321-867-2468
KSC Release No. 56-03
LAUNCH OF "OPPORTUNITY" ABOARD DELTA II POSTPONED TO JULY 7
The launch of the MER-B Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket has been postponed an additional 24 hours. The delay is due to the failure of a battery cell associated with a component of the launch vehicle's flight termination system. The battery must be removed and replaced.
Launch is now targeted for no earlier than Monday, July 7. The two launch times available are 10:35:23 and 11:18:15 p.m. EDT. The forecast calls for a 30% chance of not meeting the launch weather criteria on Monday evening.
At Pad 17-B, a tanking test of the Delta rocket was conducted this morning. The first stage was loaded with cryogenic liquid oxygen to evaluate the bonding of the lower band of cork thermal insulation. This afternoon, NASA and Boeing managers met to discuss the outcome of the tanking test and other associated testing and engineering evaluations that have been conducted over the last several days.
After the tanking, inspections revealed some selective debonding of the cork from the surface of the vehicle within a limited area. These locations are being repaired using a different adhesive with a stronger bonding characteristic as demonstrated by tests conducted at KSC late this week. This work was completed tonight and the problem has been resolved to the satisfaction of engineers.
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Correct. The story is a bit more complicated than an orthodox Hohmann orbit, because of Mars's elliptical orbit, the fact that it's not quite in the same plane as Earth's orbit, etc., but that's still the right general idea. Mars and Earth are in the right places, so that an economy transfer from Earth to Mars's orbit will get there when Mars is there, about every 26 months.

Depends greatly on propulsion capabilities and how much margin the spacecraft designers left. Typically there will be only one or two days when conditions are precisely optimal, but the usual sorts of margins typically give a window 2-4 weeks long. (Often the spacecraft guys are happy to see launch slip a little, because the best launch conditions -- requiring the smallest amount of the spacecraft's own fuel -- are usually in the middle of the window.)
Precisely *when* the window appears depends on whether you care about minimizing arrival velocity, which you do for an orbiter but not for a lander (like the MERs) that goes straight in from interplanetary cruise. Which is why the launch window for Mars Express opened in late May and closed in late June, while the MER window came a bit later.
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On Mon, 07 Jul 2003 10:00:54 -0700, Hop David

The 15th, but Opportunity got it's opportunity and is on it's way, Hurraaaaa!
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