NASA Spacecraft Begin Journey to Mars Aboard Boeing Delta IIBoeing Press Release
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR STATION, Fla., Jan. 3, 1999 -- A Boeing [NYSE:BA] Delta II rocket roared into space today carrying two Mars-bound spacecraft for NASA. The successful launch of Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 took place at 3:21 p.m. EST.
Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 are part of a series of NASA spacecraft that will make the journey to the Red Planet over the next few years. Last month a Delta II launched NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft, which will observe seasonal changes on the planet upon its arrival in October 1999.
Both the Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 spacecraft, managed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., move the agency closer to its goal of mounting a human expedition to Mars.
Mars Polar Lander will spend three months digging for traces of water beneath the frozen surface of Mars and will search for evidence of a physical record of climate change. A miniature microphone will permit scientists to record 10-second sound bytes of natural sounds from the planet.
Deep Space 2 is comprised of two microprobes designed to penetrate the surface of Mars and collect samples for testing water vapor content of the planet's subterranean soil. In addition, Deep Space 2 will validate the ability of small probes loaded with sensitive, miniaturized instruments to analyze the terrain of planets and moons throughout the solar system.
"We're proud to be a partner with NASA in these innovative planetary missions and in furthering science and technology," said Darryl Van Dorn, Boeing director of NASA and commercial programs. Delta has a 98 percent success rate for scientific and technology development launches since 1960.
Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 are the third in the current 10-launch series by Boeing for NASA's Medium-Light Expendable Launch Services. This year Delta rockets will carry NASA spacecraft Stardust, Landsat-7 and FUSE into space.
The Delta II is manufactured in Huntington Beach, Calif., with final assembly in Pueblo, Colo., and is powered by the RS-27A engine built by Boeing in Canoga Park, Calif. The Delta launch team at Cape Canaveral Air Station handles launch coordination and operations.
Alliant Techsystems, Magna, Utah, builds the graphite epoxy motors for boost assist. Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif., manufactures the second-stage engine, Cordant Technologies, Elkton, Md., supplies the upper-stage engine, and AlliedSignal, Teterboro, N.J., builds the guidance and flight control system. The spacecraft were built by Lockheed Astronautics, Denver, Colo.
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