Carried by a payload transporter, the MMS spacecraft departed the Astrotech payload processing facility near Kennedy Space Center at 1:30 a.m. enroute to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It arrived at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at 4:13 a.m. and the operation to hoist the spacecraft into place atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket was completed at 9:40 a.m. The mechanical and electrical connections are now being established.
The rollout of NASA’s MMS spacecraft from the Astrotech payload processing facility to Space Launch Complex 41 has been postponed 24 hours due to the weather forecast for tonight. It is rescheduled for the overnight hours of Friday morning pending the outcome of a weather briefing on Thursday afternoon. This will not affect the March 12 launch date. Meanwhile, MMS is being placed on the payload transporter today.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will send NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft into orbit is nearly fully assembled at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. The rocket’s first stage was installed Feb. 6 and its two solid rocket boosters were added Feb. 7 and Feb. 9. Next up was the Centaur upper stage. After its Feb. 12 arrival at the launch complex, it was lifted into place atop the first stage.
Meanwhile, the four observatories comprising the MMS spacecraft continued their prelaunch preparations at the Astrotech Payload Processing Facility. Engineers cleaned and inspected the spacecraft’s science instruments and 32 GPS antennas, and the lower two observatories were attached to the Atlas V payload adapter. The upper two observatories then were hoisted and mated to the lower stack. News media representatives had the chance to view the MMS payload in its launch configuration at Astrotech on Feb. 18.
The payload fairing that will protect MMS during launch was secured around the spacecraft yesterday in advance of the overnight journey from Astrotech to the launch complex, scheduled for Thursday morning.
The first stage of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will launch the MMS spacecraft into orbit was hoisted into position Wednesday at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Vertical Integration Facility at SLC-41 is the integration and checkout area for the Atlas V as it is built up to launch configuration. The next step in that process is the addition of a pair of solid-fueled boosters. The Centaur upper stage to go to the pad and be placed atop the first stage Feb. 11.
The four spacecraft that make up the MMS mission are in processing at the Astrotech facility near Kennedy. Thermal blanket closeouts are under way and will continue this week. Processing remains on pace for a targeted March 12 launch.
The MMS mission will study the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known a magnetic reconnection.