A busy year of successful missions is drawing to a close
for NASA’s Expendable Launch Services. Since January, eight
spacecraft have been safely and successfully deployed on
expendable launch vehicles (ELVs).

Several of these missions had been delayed by NASA ELV
engineers so potential problems with vehicles could be
thoroughly examined and analyzed before their subsequent

“We’re proud of the exceptional work done by our ELV team,”
said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Flight William
F. Readdy. “Whenever a technical problem cropped up, they were
deliberate in their assessment and approach to finding a

The planned April 18 launch of the Space InfraRed Telescope
Facility (SIRTF), the last of NASA’s ‘Great Observatories,’
was delayed by NASA ELV engineers concerned with a
delamination on the nozzle of one of the Delta 7925-H rocket’s
strap-on solid rocket motors. SIRTF eventually launched August
25 after the motor was replaced. MER-B, the second Mars Rover
(after MER-A) was launched July 7 after a delay of nine days
allowed for repair of cork insulation on the rocket booster.

“2003 has been a banner year for our robotic exploration of
the universe,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space
Science Dr. Ed Weiler. “The excitement of missions to Mars and
all our other missions begin with a successful launch from

“NASA’s expendable launch vehicle program has consistently
delivered superb services and unprecedented success in
launching our armada of Earth observing satellites,” said NASA
Associate Administrator for Earth Sciences Dr. Ghassem R.
Asrar. “We’re confident the NASA team will continue to provide
its exemplary leadership and services to the Enterprise.”

Depending upon the specific needs of a mission, ELVs can be
launched from either of two locations: Vandenberg Air Force
Base, Calif., or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

“The agency has employed a ‘mixed fleet’ philosophy,” said
Karen Poniatowski, assistant associate administrator for
launch services. “That allows us to purchase launch services
as needed using a wide range of vehicles to deploy payloads.”

Since 1987, when NASA began purchasing launch services, the
agency’s ELV success rate has been 98.5% (67 of 68 launches

For more information about NASA’s Expendable Launch Services,
log onto the Kennedy Space Center Web site, at:
www.ksc.nasa.gov and link to “Expendable Launch Vehicles.”

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