NASA Dawn Mission Damage Update


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Image caption: On June 11, during a procedure to prepare the Dawn spacecraft for spin-balance testing, the back of a solar array panel was slightly damaged by a technician's tool. The size of the affected area is about 2.5 inches by 2 inches. The necessary minor repairs will be made during the coming weekend. There is no impact to the launch date of July 7. Dawn's goal is to characterize the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch 4.5 billion years ago by investigating in detail two of the largest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. They reside between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt. Photo courtesy of Orbital Sciences.

Editor's note: According to NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science Alan Stern, when contacted by SpaceRef for comment: "DAWN was slightly damaged Monday by a tech's tool. The damage was to the back side of a solar array. It affects a tiny area and looks like it can be repaired without delaying the 7 July LRD. This is an exciting NASA science mission that promises to unlock new details about the origin of the asteroid belt and dwarf planets. We are pressing forward to launch, ever vigilant as we go forward."

NASA KSC Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report

Mission: Dawn
Location: Astrotech Space Operations Facility
Launch Pad: 17-B
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7925-H
Launch Date: July 7, 2007
Launch Time: 4:09:31 - 4:36:22 p.m. EDT

NASA is investigating a minor mishap affecting the Dawn spacecraft. On June 11, during a procedure to prepare the spacecraft for spin-balance testing, the back of a solar array panel was slightly damaged by a technician's tool. No solar cells were broken. The necessary minor repairs will be made this weekend. There is no impact to the launch date of July 7.

Loading of xenon for the ion propulsion system was completed last week. Hydrazine, used for spacecraft control and maneuvering, was loaded aboard June 10. The spacecraft was then weighed and placed on a spin table for a series of spin tests that are currently under way. Dawn will be mated to its associated upper-stage booster on June 21 and transported to Pad 17-B for mating to the Delta II on June 26.

At Pad 17-B, the operations to attach the Delta II solid rocket boosters to the first stage are complete. The second stage is planned to be hoisted atop the first stage on Friday.

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