Image credit: NASA/JPL
NASA decided to push back the launch of the second Mars Explorer rover this week because of a minor problem with its Delta rocket. Engineers decided to replace a protective band of cork insulation on the rocket’s first stage. The time to make this replacement will push back the launch of “Opportunity” to Sunday, June 29 at 0356 GMT (11:56 pm Saturday EDT). If all goes well, Opportunity will follow Spirit, which is already on its way to Mars, and is expected to arrive in early January 2004.
The Flight Readiness Review was held today for the MER-B launch of the ?Opportunity? Mars Exploration Rover. Afterward, a decision was made to postpone the launch by at least a couple of days.
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Based on routine post-test inspections, the launch team has elected to remove and replace a band of protective cork insulation on the Delta first stage. The location is below the forward attach points of the strap-on solid rocket boosters. Inspections of a second band located higher on the first stage are being performed.
The time necessary to do this work means a rescheduling of the launch to no earlier than Saturday, June 28 at 11:56:16 p.m. EDT. A firm date will be established on Monday after the engineering team reconvenes.
Original Source: NASA News Release