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Boeing to launch latest NASA Mars probe

Boeing News Release
December 10, 1998

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - The launch of a Boeing [NYSE: BA] Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft has been rescheduled for Friday, Dec. 11.

The launch was delayed one day after engineers detected a software flaw in the spacecraft's charge control unit. Following correction of the flaw and testing, plans have resumed for a Friday launch from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla.

There are two launch opportunities, a one-second window at 1:45:51 p.m. EST, and another one-second window at 2:52 p.m. EST.

Over the years Delta launch vehicles have carried a host of critical scientific payloads for NASA, including Deep Space 1, the Advanced Composition Explorer, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor. In all, Delta rockets have flown 75 scientific missions since 1961, boasting a 98.6 percent success rate.

"The launch of Mars Climate Orbiter will represent the latest chapter in the Delta program's strong history of delivering scientific and technology development payloads into space," said Darryl Van Dorn, Boeing director of commercial and NASA Delta programs.

The Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, and is managed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The spacecraft will travel to Mars, arriving 10 months later, in October 1999. Upon arrival, the spacecraft will observe seasonal changes on the planet by mapping its surface for an entire Martian year (687 Earth days).

The probe will examine the Martian climate and the presence of usable resources, and look for evidence of past life. The mission also will provide an on-orbit data relay for the Mars Polar Lander mission, which will be launched aboard a Delta rocket in January 1999. Additionally, the mission aims to establish the capability for future U.S. and international surface stations.

The Delta II is a medium capacity expendable launch vehicle derived from the Delta family of rockets built and launched since 1960. The Delta II rocket is manufactured in Huntington Beach, Calif., with final assembly in Pueblo, Colo., and is powered by the RS-27A engine built by Boeing-Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, Calif. The Delta launch team at Cape Canaveral Air Station will handle launch coordination and operations for the NASA mission.

Alliant Techsystems, Magna, Utah, builds the graphite epoxy motors for boost assist; Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif., supplies the second-stage engine; Cordant Technologies, Elkton, Md., builds the upper-stage engine, and AlliedSignal, Teterboro, N.J., provides the guidance and flight control system.

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