Cracked Pad 37 on the Mend: Delta IV on Schedule for August Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL - The 23rd and last defense satellite of its kind is backon schedule for a mid-August launch, after damage to pad 37 delayed the launch.


Carried to a 23,000-mile orbit on a Delta IV Heavy rocket,DSP-23 will be the last of a series of spacecraft first launched in 1970. TheDSP satellites help detect missile or spacecraft launches and nuclearexplosions using sensors that record infrared emissions from these intensesources of heat.


During Desert Storm, the satellite system marked thelaunches of Iraqi Scud missiles and provided warnings to civilians and militaryforces in Israel and Saudi Arabia.


The launch, originally scheduled for March, was delayed whentwo structural cracks were found in the metal launch table at pad 37.


An investigation found that a liquid oxygen leak during acountdown test exposed the launch table to super-cold temperatures, most likelycausing the cracks. The leak appeared to be from vacuum jacketed liquid oxygenpropellant lines inside the launch table, which are used to fill the boostertanks. The lines were replaced in 2006, but a cause for the leak has not beendetermined.


Repairs are on schedule, said Mike Rein, spokesman forUnited Launch Alliance.


The 5,000-pound satellite will be carried into orbit aboardULA's Delta IV Heavy, which is configured by binding three Delta IV common corerocket boosters together.


It will be only the second Delta IV Heavy to blast off fromthe Cape. The first launch was in December 2004, when the maiden flight failedto deliver its payload to the desired orbit -- missing one of the test mission'seight objectives.

Published under license from FLORIDA TODAY. Copyright © 2007 FLORIDA TODAY. No portion of thismaterial may be reproduced in any way without the written consent of FLORIDA TODAY.


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