'Opportunity' Mars Exploration Rover Targeted For Launch July 6

For Release: July 3, 2003        
Don Savage
NASA Headquarters 202/358-1727
George H. Diller Kennedy Space Center 321/867-2468
Guy Webster Jet Propulsion Laboratory 818/354-6278 KSC Release No: 55 - 03
REVISED NOTE TO EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS: "OPPORTUNITY" MARS EXPLORATION ROVER TARGETED FOR LAUNCH JULY 6
The second of two Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity, is rescheduled for launch on Sunday, July 6 at 10:43:16 p.m. EDT. Liftoff will occur aboard the Boeing Delta II Heavy launch vehicle from Pad B at Space Launch Complex 17 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A second launch opportunity exists at 11:26:02 p.m. EDT, if necessary. Should launch be delayed by 24 hours, two launch times are also available on Monday at 10:35:23 p.m. and 11:18:15 p.m. EDT. The window of the planetary launch period extends through July 15.
Opportunity will reach Mars on Jan. 25, 2004. Together the two MER rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, seek to determine the history of climate and water at two sites on Mars where conditions may once have been favorable to life. The rovers are identical. Each rover carries five scientific instruments including a panoramic camera and microscope, plus a rock abrasion tool that will grind away the outer surfaces of rocks to expose their interiors for examination. The rovers each weigh approximately 400 pounds. They will navigate themselves around obstacles as they drive across the Martian surface, traveling up to about 130 feet each Martian day. Each rover's prime mission is planned to last three months on Mars. ACCREDITATION      On launch day, Sunday, July 6, badges to cover the MER-B launch from the Trident Bluff press viewing area will be issued to all media starting at 9:15 p.m. at the Pass and Identification Building on State Road 401 outside Gate 1 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Proof of identification and news media affiliation will be required. Departure for the Trident Bluff will be at 9:30 p.m. After launch, media will be escorted back to Gate 1. A U.S. Air Force or NASA escort is required at all times while on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
For further information on MER-B launch accreditation, contact Cynthia Pettiford at the NASA-KSC News Center at 321-867-2468.
L-1 DAY SET UP OF REMOTE CAMERAS
Media wishing to establish remote cameras at the launch pad should meet at the Gate 1 Pass and Identification Building of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on State Road 401 on launch day, Sunday, July 6, at 11:45 a.m. to be escorted to Space Launch Complex 17. PRESS SITE OPERATING HOURS
The NASA-KSC News Center will not be open on launch day. All media activities will be conducted from the remote press site located at the Trident Bluff on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
NASA TELEVISION COVERAGE, "V" CIRCUITS, AND LAUNCH STATUS
Launch coverage on NASA Television will begin at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 6. Coverage will conclude after acquisition of the spacecraft by the Deep Space Network approximately one hour and forty minutes after launch, at which time the spacecraft's initial state of health will be reported.
There will not be a post-launch press conference.
NASA Television is available on satellite AMC-2, transponder 9C, located at 85 degrees West longitude.
Audio only of NASA Television coverage of the launch will be available on the "V" circuits which may be dialed directly at 321/867-1220, 867-1240, 867-1260, 867-7135. The NASA-KSC News Center codaphone will carry recorded MER-B prelaunch status reports on Saturday, July 5 and Sunday, July 6 that may be dialed at 321-867-2525.
"NASA DIRECT!" WEB COVERAGE
"NASA Direct!" webcast coverage of the launch will begin at 8:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 6. For more information on the MER-B/Opportunity web activities, go to
http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/elvnew/merb/index.htm
For a detailed NASA Direct! event calendar, go to:
http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/nasadirect/index.htm
Information about the MER missions is available online at:
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer /
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