NASA/Kennedy Space Center News Release

      George H. Diller                                                                              July 5, 2003
      Kennedy Space Center
      321/867-2468

      KSC Release No. 56-03

      LAUNCH OF “OPPORTUNITY” ABOARD DELTA II POSTPONED TO JULY 7

      The launch of the MER-B Mars Exploration Rover “Opportunity” aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket has been postponed an additional 24 hours. The delay is due to the failure of a battery cell associated with a component of the launch vehicle’s flight termination system. The battery must be removed and replaced.

      Launch is now targeted for no earlier than Monday, July 7. The two launch times available are 10:35:23 and 11:18:15 p.m. EDT. The forecast calls for a 30% chance of not meeting the launch weather criteria on Monday evening.

      At Pad 17-B, a tanking test of the Delta rocket was conducted this morning. The first stage was loaded with cryogenic liquid oxygen to evaluate the bonding of the lower band of cork thermal insulation. This afternoon, NASA and Boeing managers met to discuss the outcome of the tanking test and other associated testing and engineering evaluations that have been conducted over the last several days. 

      After the tanking, inspections revealed some selective debonding of the cork from the surface of the vehicle within a limited area. These locations are being repaired using a different adhesive with a stronger bonding characteristic as demonstrated by tests conducted at KSC late this week. This work was completed tonight and the problem has been resolved to the satisfaction of engineers.

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