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December 23, 1998                                          
KSC Contact: George H. Diller
KSC Release No. 171-98

Note to Editors/News Directors:


The launch of NASA's Mars Polar Lander spacecraft aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 3, 1999. There is a single launch window available which opens at 3:21:10 p.m. EST. No second opportunity is available that day. The next available window is on Monday, Jan. 4 at 3:13:34 p.m. EST. Liftoff will occur from Pad B at Launch Complex 17 on Cape Canaveral Air Station.

The solar-powered spacecraft is designed to touch down on the Martian surface above the northern-most boundary of the south polar cap, which is made of carbon dioxide ice. The lander will study the polar water cycle, frosts, water vapor, condensates and dust in the Martian atmosphere. The Deep Space 2 microprobes are installed on the lander's cruise stage. These two probes, developed by NASA's New Millennium Program, will test technology and instruments to search for water several feet below the Martian surface.

The Mars Polar Lander has completed final checkout and was mated to the Boeing Delta II rocket on Dec. 23. The Delta fairing is be installed around the spacecraft on Dec. 29.


A prelaunch news conference is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 2 at 11 a. m. EST in the KSC News Center auditorium and will be carried live on NASA Television. Participating in the briefing will be:

Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science
NASA Headquarters

Ray Lugo, NASA Launch Manager
Kennedy Space Center

Rich Murphy, Delta Mission Director
The Boeing Company

Dr. John McNamee, Mars Surveyor 98 Project Manager/Mission Director
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Sarah Gavit, Deep Space 2 Project Manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Ed Euler, Program Manager
Lockheed Martin Astronautics

Joel Tumbiolo, Launch Weather Officer
Department of the Air Force

The NASA News Center will open for the prelaunch news conference at 9 a.m. and close at 2 p.m.


Those media without permanent accreditation who wish to cover the launch of Delta/Mars Polar Lander including the prelaunch news conference on L-1 day should send a letter of request to the NASA-KSC News Center on news organization letterhead. It should include name and Social Security number or passport number. Letters should be faxed to 407/867-2692 or addressed to:

Mars Polar Lander Launch Accreditation
Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899

Mars Polar Lander mission badges may be picked up at the News Center between 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. beginning Monday, Dec. 28. On launch day, Jan. 3, Mars Polar Lander mission badges will be available at Gate 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Station located on SR 401 starting at 1:30 p.m. prior to departure for Press Site 1. A Delta/Mars Polar Lander mission badge is required for all news media covering the launch from Press Site 1.

For further information on Mars Polar Lander launch accreditation contact Selina Scorah at the NASA News Center at 407/867-2468.


On Saturday, Jan. 2 at 12 Noon, following the prelaunch news conference, a NASA van will depart from the NASA-KSC News Center for Launch Complex 17 for media photographers who wish to establish remote cameras at Pad 17-B.


A photo opportunity of the Delta launch vehicle for Mars Polar Lander will be available at Pad 17-B after tower-rollback. Media wishing to participate will depart the Gate 1 Pass & Identification Building on Cape Canaveral Air Station at 8:30 a.m. on launch day, Jan. 3.


On Jan. 3, media covering the launch should meet at the Gate 1 Pass & Identification Building on Cape Canaveral Air Station. The convoy departure for Press Site 1 will be at 2:00 p.m. After launch, media may leave via Gate 1 only. The NASA News Center at KSC will be open from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.


NASA Television will carry the prelaunch news conference starting at 11 a.m. EST on Saturday, Jan. 2. On launch day, countdown coverage will begin at 2 p.m. EST and conclude when mission success is confirmed approximately one hour later. No post-launch news conference will be held.

NASA Television is available on GE-2, transponder 9C located at 85 degrees West longitude. Audio only of Delta/Mars Polar Lander events will also be available on the "V" circuits which may be dialed directly at 407/867-1220, 407/867-1240, 407/867-1260, 407/867-7135, 407/867-4003, 407/867-4920.

The NASA-KSC codaphone will carry Delta/Mars Polar Lander prelaunch status reports beginning at L-3 days, on Thursday, Dec. 31 and may be dialed at 407/867-2525.

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