June 24, 1999

Chandra X-ray Observatory Status Update

Dave Drachlis, Media Relations Office, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL (Phone: 256/544-6538, Fax: 256/544-5852)

The Chandra X-ray Observatory, with the attached Inertial Upper Stage booster, arrived at Launch Pad 39-B today at 3:50 a.m., in preparation for the July 20 launch of Space Shuttle Columbia.

Chandra left the Vertical Processing Facility Wednesday at 12:30 a.m. inside the payload canister riding atop the payload transporter. The observatory is now being removed from the payload canister and installed inside the payload changeout room at the pad.

Installation of the Chandra/Inertial Upper Stage combination into Columbia's payload bay is scheduled for Sunday, June 27, and will be followed with the electrical connections Monday, June 28. On June 30, the interface verification test is scheduled. This will make sure the electrical connections are working properly and ensure the ability of the crew to command the payload from Columbia's flight deck.

July 2, an end-to-end test will make certain the communications path to Chandra is working, commanding it as if it were in space aboard Columbia. Participating in the test will be Chandra's Operations Control Center in Cambridge, Mass.; Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center, Houston; the Inertial Upper Stage control facility at Sunnyvale, Calif.; and the communications assets of both the Deep Space Network and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system.

The remaining major steps toward launch of Chandra involve the Inertial Upper Stage.

Columbia's payload bay doors are to be closed for flight on July 17, with launch of STS-93 set for July 20. However, an official launch date will be set during the Flight Readiness Review July 8.

Note: This update can be found on the Chandra News Websites

Dave Drachlis, MSFC Media Relations Office