A firstofitskind mission to study a fundamental driver of space weather soon will take flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, consists of a foursome of observatories that will fly in tight formation to provide a threedimensional view of magnetic reconnection. The MMS spacecraft will get a boost into orbit by a powerful United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Preparations for the launch began in late October 2014 when MMS was delivered by truck to the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near Kennedy Space Center.
Their protective coverings were removed, revealing two pairs of observatories or ministacks. The Atlas V booster and Centaur upper stage arrived at Port Canaveral aboard ULA’s Delta Mariner specialized cargo ship December 18. They were transported to the hangar at the Atlas V Spaceflight Operations Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Solar array illumination testing on the MMS spacecraft was wrapped up and the two ministacks were fueled in midJanuary. Assembly of the rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 began February 4 when the first stage was hoisted into position inside the Vertical Integration Facility. The rocket’s two solidfuel.
Motors were installed in the following days. Up next was the Centaur, added on February 12. Around the same time, the MMS lower stack was attached to the Atlas V payload adapter. MMS came together on February 16 with the buildup of the upper and lower ministacks. At this point the spacecraft were configured for launch, paving the way for encapsulation inside the twopiece payload fairing on February 23. Finally, MMS took the last leg of its journey on Earth an early morning move from Astrotech to Space Launch Complex 41.