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Delta 3 payload subject of space-based studies
Posted: August 16, 2000

The Delta 3's simulated payload. Photo: Boeing
Boeing, the U.S. Air Force and the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research (CCAR) at the University of Colorado will utilize the simulated payload from the next Delta III launch to conduct a variety of post-launch missions and studies.

In a unique partnership between the Air Force and private industry, Boeing has prepared the payload to assist in the calibration and testing of electro-optical space imaging systems. The payload was painted with alternating white and black stripes on its midsection, and alternating black and white pie-shaped triangles on the satellite's top plate. Reflective surfaces also have been added to provide laser cross-section targets at both visible and infrared wavelengths.

By viewing the satellite under varying degrees of sunlight and dark, the Air Force will also be able to verify its thermal standards and models for satellites. Other models used to predict payload dynamics will be verified by viewing the spin rate of the payload. The Air Force has also expressed an interest in observing the payload as a calibration target to verify the consistency of radar and optical analyses.

Another view of the Delta 3's simulated payload. Photo: Boeing
Joining the Air Force in its study of the payload will be Dr. Robert Culp and Dr. Kira Jorgensen from the CCAR. CCAR has extensive experience in characterizing space-weathering effects on satellite materials for NASA. The center has offered to characterize the surface materials samples in their laboratory and to assist in analyzing the measurements obtained by Boeing and the Air Force, which is similar to work CCAR has done for NASA in the past.

CCAR will analyze the data on the payload dynamics, such as spin rate and precession angle, to determine the payload's interactions with the orbital environment. By analyzing the data on the changes to the payload's motions, CCAR will be able to relate the changes to the payload's interactions with the atmosphere and magnetic fields.

The launch, dubbed DM-F3 for "Delta Mission Flight Three," is scheduled for August 23 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The four-hour launch window opens at 7 a.m. EDT.

Flight Data File
Vehicle: Delta 3 (8930)
Payload: DM-F3
Launch date: August 23, 2000
Launch window: 1100-1500 GMT (0700-1100 EDT)
Launch site: SLC-17B, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Pre-launch briefing
Mission preview - Read our story for a complete look at the Delta 3's crucial test launch.

Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

Delta 3 rocket - Overview of the Delta 3 8930-model rocket.

Rocket diagram - Illustration shows the various components of the Delta 3.

Orbit trace - A map shows the launch track for the mission.

Video vault
Animation shows a typical Boeing Delta 3 rocket launch from liftoff through spacecraft deployment.
  PLAY (817k, 1min 25sec QuickTime file)
The inaugural Boeing Delta 3 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral on August 26, 1998 but explodes just over a minute into the flight.
  PLAY (586k, 1min 33sec QuickTime file)
A close-up view of the Delta 3 rocket exploding in 1998 as captured from a long range tracking camera.
  PLAY (127k,08sec QuickTime file)
The second Delta 3 rocket lifts on May 4, 1999 from Cape Canaveral with the Orion 3 satellite.
  PLAY (241k, 34sec QuickTime file)
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