BY JUSTIN RAY
February 8, 2000 -- Read our description of the countdown and launch of a Boeing Delta 2 rocket and four Globalstar communications satellite. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.
2237 GMT (5:37 p.m. EST)
We have posted a video of today's launch. This is a 224k, 33sec QuickTime file. Also, check out our post-launch story.
This concludes our Mission Status Center coverage of Boeing's seventh launch for Globalstar.
2236 GMT (5:36 p.m. EST)
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The rocket's second stage now will be oriented over the next few moments in preparation for separation of the lower two satellites. Release of those two spacecraft is now four minutes away.
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The launch ignition sequence will begin at T-minus 2 seconds when a Boeing engineer triggers the engine start switch. The process begins with ignition of the two vernier engines and first stage main engine start. The four solid rocket motors then light at T-0 for liftoff.
2123 GMT (4:23 p.m. EST)
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2122 GMT (4:22 p.m. EST)
The four Globalstar spacecraft are go for launch. One satellite will serve as the 48th and final primary spacecraft in the Globlastar network while the other three will act an on-orbit spares.
2121 GMT (4:21 p.m. EST)
The safety destruct safe and arm devices are being armed. Shortly, the four Globalstar satellites will be declared ready for launch.
2120 GMT (4:20 p.m. EST)
Weather has been declared GO for launch!
2119 GMT (4:19 p.m. EST)
A network of tracking stations around the globe will be used to collect and relay telemetry data from the Delta 2 rocket during launch today.
At liftoff, the TEL-4 tracking station here at the Cape will provide coverage of the first stage of flight and second stage engine ignition.
As the vehicle heads up the Eastern Seaboard, the Air Force's New Hampshire tracking site will acquire signal about 5 minutes, 24 seconds into flight. New Hampshire will cover the mission for 6 1/2 minutes through the first cutoff of the second stage. Also during the New Hampshire pass, live video could be received from a special video camera mounted on the dispenser that holds and will release the Globalstar satellites.
Additional Air Force tracking sites in Oakhanger, England and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean will receive data during the long, quiet coast period before the second start of the second stage.
Just prior to reignition, the NASA tracking site in Canberra, Australia will pick up the rocket's signal to cover the critical second burn of the second stage and deployment of all four satellites.
Under two hours into flight, after the satellites have separated, the Air Force's Colorado station will pick up the signal from the second stage to watch two scheduled engine firings. The first is an evasive maneuver to move the spent stage away from the Globalstar satellites. The second will deplete the stage's remaining onboard fuel supply.
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Weather remains a constraint.
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The countdown is heading to T-minus 4 minutes for the planned 10-minute built-in hold. Launch is still set for 3:54 p.m. EST, if the weather improves. Conditions are currently "no go" for liftoff.
2032 GMT (3:32 p.m. EST)
A few rain drops now falling at the press site just over a mile from the launch pad.
2031 GMT (3:31 p.m. EST)
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2024 GMT (3:24 p.m. EST)
Weather conditions are very iffy for liftoff. The thick cloud rule is currently being violated and light precipitation has been seen about 10,000 feet.
2020 GMT (3:20 p.m. EST)
2014 GMT (3:14 p.m. EST)
The U.S. Air Force has refined the collision avoidance, or COLA, that will prohibit liftoff during a portion of today's launch window. The COLA, caused by the International Space Station, will open at 4:06 p.m. EST (2106 GMT) and last for four minutes.
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There no technical problems are being discussed on the communications loops between launch team members. Weather conditions, specially clouds, remain a bit iffy today. Overall there is a 60 percent chance weather will prohibit liftoff during today's 30-minute launch window.
1935 GMT (2:35 p.m. EST)
Because of the liquid oxygen's super-cold temperature, the launch team will maintain the LOX tank at the 95 percent level during the countdown. They will then replenish, or "top off", the rocket's supply of liquid oxygen to ensure a proper level for flight.
Liquid oxygen loading completes fueling for launch. The first stage was loaded this morning with RP-1 fuel, a highly refined kerosene. The LOX and RP-1 fuel will be consumed by the first stage main engine during the first 4 1/2 minutes of flight. The second stage's storable propellants of Aerozine-50 fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer were pumped aboard the rocket on Sunday.
1932 GMT (2:32 p.m. EST)
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1920 GMT (2:20 p.m. EST)
The launch team is now 10 minutes into first stage liquid oxygen tanking operations. The loading of cryogenic liquid oxygen into the Delta 2 is the final step in fueling the booster for launch. Storable propellants were pumped into the second stage on Sunday and the first stage RP-1 fuel was added earlier this morning. Liquid oxygen is loaded this close to liftoff because of its super-cold temperature. The LOX naturally boils away and the rocket's tank must be replenished to ensure properly levels for launch.
1911 GMT (2:11 p.m. EST)
Boeing officials say upper level winds are acceptable for flight, which was a concern today. However, thick clouds and thunderstorm anvil clouds are still a threat.
1909 GMT (2:09 p.m. EST)
1754 GMT (12:54 p.m. EST)
1540 GMT (10:40 a.m. EST)
Early this morning workers loaded the rocket's first stage with RP-1 fuel, a highly refined kerosene. Just after 9 a.m. EST, the 12-story mobile service tower at pad 17B was rolled away from the rocket and into the launch position.
Over the next few hours final pre-launch work will be completed on the pad and ground systems. Also the four Globalstar satellites atop the two-stage Delta rocket will be turned on and configured for launch.
The terminal count for launch will start at 12:54 p.m. EST. Once the clocks begin ticking, the launch team will pressure tanks and bottles aboard the rocket, activate the vehicle's guidance computer and load liquid oxygen into the first stage, which is slated to start at about 2:09 p.m. EST.
There is a predicted collision avoidance period, or COLA, today that will prohibit liftoff during an approximate 10-minute period in the middle of the 30-minute launch window. This window cutout is caused by the passing International Space Station. The exact timing of the COLA and its duration will be refined by the U.S. Air Force today.
The weather forecast for today has become less optimistic with only a 40 percent chance of acceptable conditions. Earlier, the forecast had called for a 70 percent chance of good weather. The main concerns are clouds, which are currently creating a dark morning at Cape Canaveral. Rain drops were also felt during tower rollback a little while ago.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2000
Workers are spending this day before launch to complete C-band beacon and Range Safety checks with the rocket. Also, engineering walkdowns of the launch pad are being performed and preparations are underway to ready the mobile service tower for retraction from the rocket.
Final pre-flight activities will begin in earnest at sunrise tomorrow when the launch crews load RP-1 fuel, a highly refined kerosene, into the Delta 2 rocket's first stage. This fuel, along with liquid oxygen to be pumped aboard much closer to liftoff time, will be consumed by the Rocketdyne RS-27A first stage main engine during the initial 4 1/2 minutes of flight.
Managers decided to load the RP-1 early Tuesday morning instead of later in the launch countdown as typically planned so the fuel can "weight down" the rocket. Delta vehicles are not bolted to the launch pad and the extra weight will help in keeping the rocket steady from gusty winds once the tower is retracted. Tower removal is planned just after 8 a.m. EST.
The terminal countdown is slated to begin at 12:54 p.m. EST (1754 GMT) at T-minus 150 minutes. There are two built-in holds lasting a total duration of 30 minutes leading to the opening of the launch window at 3:54 p.m. EST (2054 GMT).
The launch time weather forecast remains basically unchanged with a 70 percent chance of good conditions. Meteorologists will be watching thunderstorm anvil and thick layered clouds and ground level winds, however. Air Force launch weather Joel Tumbiolo gives this overview:
"Weak cold front to move through area late Monday or early Tuesday and become stationary across south Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Upper level energy originating over the Northern Plains is now over the southern Rockies and will move across the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, and across Florida late Tuesday and Wednesday. This energy as it moves across the Gulf will pass over the stationary frontal boundary, resulting in thunderstorm development which could lead to anvil and thick clouds moving across Florida during the launch window. As this energy continues to move across Florida it could lead to the development of surface low pressure over the Gulf Stream late Tuesday or early Wednesday resulting in the possibility of coastal showers and thick clouds on Wednesday."
The launch time forecast calls for a few clouds at 5,000 and scattered clouds at 10,000 and 20,000 feet, visibility of 10 miles or better, north-northwesterly winds 12 gusting to 20 knots, a temperature between 63 and 65 degrees F and relative humidity of 50 percent.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2000
Liftoff is set for 3:54 p.m. EST (2054 GMT), the opening of a 30-minute window.
Workers on Friday installed ordnance aboard the rocket. The Mission Readiness Review was held on Saturday. The rocket's protective payload fairing, or nose cone, was installed on Saturday, too. Today was spent loading storable propellants aboard the rocket's second stage. The Launch Readiness Review to clear the Delta for liftoff is planned for Monday.
The weather forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions on Tuesday. The concerns will be ground-level winds and possibly clouds. Air Force launch weather Joel Tumbiolo gives this overview:
"Surface high pressure center positioned to the north-northwest of Florida will continue the overall benign conditions on Sunday. Upper level energy originating over the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest will dive quickly into the southeast U.S. on Monday and Tuesday. This energy will aid in allowing for a quick moving cold front originating from low pressure over extreme northeast U.S. to pass through Florida on late Monday or early Tuesday. At this time moisture availability with this entire system appears to be limited although offshore, post-frontal clouds may approach the coast on Tuesday and Wednesday as secondary low pressure develops well offshore."
The launch time forecast calls for a few clouds at 5,000 and 10,000 feet, scattered clouds at 20,000 feet, visibility of 10 miles or better, northwesterly winds 15 gusting to 20 knots, a temperature between 63 and 65 degrees F and relative humidity of 50 percent.
Should the launch be delayed until Wednesday, which would be the last attempt until after the space shuttle launch later in the week, the forecast remains similar with a 70 percent chance of good conditions. However, the concern will be more with the clouds and less with the ground-level winds.
Flight Data File
Vehicle: Delta 2 (7420)
Payload: Four Globalstar satellites
Launch date: Feb. 8, 2000
Launch window: 2054-2124 GMT (3:54-4:24 p.m. EST)
Launch site: SLC-17B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Launch preview - A story giving an overview of this rocket launch.
Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.
Windows - Available windows for future launch dates.
Orbit trace - Map showing the ground track the rocket will follow during flight.
Delta 2 rocket - Overview of the Delta 2 7420 rocket used to launch the Globalstar satellites.
Globalstar system - Description of the Globalstar satellites and constellation.
The Boeing Delta 2 rocket lifts off with the final four satellites for Globalstar's constellation.
PLAY (224k, 33sec QuickTime file)
Animation shows the Boeing Delta 2 rocket launching four satellites for the Globalstar cellular telephone system.
PLAY (431k, 1min 14sec QuickTime file)
Boeing Mission Director Rich Murphy explains the launch process and trajectory the Delta 2 rocket will follow during flight.
PLAY (432k, 1min 32sec QuickTime file)
Space Systems/Loral President John Klineberg describes the Globalstar constellation's health and how Tuesday's launch will complete the network.
PLAY (430k, 1min 37sec QuickTime file)
John Klineberg explains why Globalstar decided to launch spare satellites into space for the constellation.
PLAY (229k, 50sec QuickTime file)
U.S. Air Force Launch Weather Officer Joel Tumbiolo describes the forecast for Tuesday's launch attempt.
PLAY (438k, 1min 40sec QuickTime file)
Download QuickTime 4 software to view this file.
Explore the Net
Boeing - Official Web site of Boeing's Delta expendable launch vehicle program.
Globalstar - Corporate Web site of the international consortium.
1st Space Launch Squadron - Oversees Delta rocket launches and facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida.
Patrick Air Force Base - Command post for Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida, one of Delta's launch sites.
History of Delta - A private Web site devoted to past Delta launches with valuable facts and figures.
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