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Flight Status Report

Wednesday, 13 November 1996

 

Early Saturday morning about 48 hours after launch, Surveyor's attitude control system successfully scanned and locked-up on reference stars in deep space. These distant stars serve as fixed reference points that allow the spacecraft to determine its proper pointing orientation relative to the Earth and Sun.

24 hours later, Surveyor was commanded to an array-normal-spin orientation. In this mode, the antenna is pointed 60 degrees away from the Sun in the direction of the Earth, and the spacecraft is slowly spinning at one revolution every 100 minutes. This orientation will be maintained until January 6th, 1997.

Late Sunday evening, the spacecraft team in Denver commanded Surveyor to begin the playback of spacecraft health and status data recorded during the launch phase of the mission. This data will be critical toward debugging the discrepancy in one of the solar array's position that occurred during array deployment. Later on, the ultra-stable oscillator was enabled for use with the spacecraftís telecommunications system.

Early today, the main engine valves were opened to expose the propellant lines downstream of the latch valves to the vacuum of space for the purpose of evacuating any residual gas trapped in the lines. After closing the main-engine valves, the latch valves were opened to allow propellant to flow from the tanks to the main-engine valves. This action was performed to wet the propellant lines prior to performing the first trajectory correction maneuver next week.

Tomorrow, the solar panels will be gimbaled from their current position of 28 degrees swept back to 30 degrees swept back. The new position will set the arrays against their maximum allowable position, otherwise known as a hard stop.

Currently, Surveyor is 1.8 million miles from the Earth and moving away at 3.2 kilometers per second. The solar arrays are generating about 1100 Watts of electricity of which the spacecraft is using 360.