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Flight Status Report

Thursday, 21 November 1996

At 8:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time today, Surveyor's main rocket engine fired for 58 seconds to correct for minor errors in the flight path that were accumulated during the launch phase. In addition, the burn removed most of an offset in the trajectory that aimed the spacecraft slightly away from Mars. This offset was designed into the original flight path to ensure that the third stage of the Delta 2 launch vehicle will not accidentally crash into Mars.

At this time, the navigation team is busy analyzing the accuracy of the burn. However, preliminary results show that this trajectory correction maneuver provided a velocity change of about 27 meters per second and was within 0.1% of the planned velocity change. During the burn, the main engine utilized a propellant combination of nitrogen tetroxide and hydrazine and expended approximately 2% of the total maneuver capacity for the mission.

Although the spacecraft is now on course for a rendezvous with Red Planet 295 days from now, three more trajectory correction maneuvers will be performed next year to further refine the flight path. Surveyor is now 3.9 million kilometers from the Earth and moving away with a velocity of 3.14 kilometers per second.