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NASA Kepler Telescope To Launch Aboard Delta II Rocket

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by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Mar 02, 2009
Launch of NASA's Kepler telescope is targeted for no earlier than Friday, March 6, from Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There are two launch windows, from 7:49 - 7:52 p.m. and 8:13 - 8:16 p.m. Pacific time (10:49 - 10:52 p.m. and 11:13 - 11:16 p.m. Eastern time).

Kepler is a spaceborne telescope designed to search the nearby region of our galaxy for Earth-size planets orbiting in the habitable zone of stars like our sun. The habitable zone is the region around a star where temperatures permit water to be liquid on a planet's surface.

Liquid water is considered essential for the existence of life as we know it. The vast majority of the approximately 300 planets known to orbit other stars are much larger than Earth, and none is believed to be habitable.

The challenge for Kepler is to look at a large number of stars in order to statistically estimate the total number of Earth-size planets orbiting sun-like stars in the habitable zone. Kepler will survey more than 100,000 stars in our galaxy.

Engineers are reviewing all common hardware between the Delta II rocket carrying the Kepler telescope and the Taurus XL launch vehicle. On Tuesday, a Taurus carrying NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory failed to reach orbit. Managers want to confirm there will not be similar issues with Kepler's Delta II.

Kepler's original March 5 target launch date was moved one day later to accommodate the additional time for analysis. The March 6 target date still must be confirmed by the U.S Air Force, which manages the eastern launch range. Kepler's Flight Readiness Review is on Monday, March 2.

NASA's Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., is responsible for the launch of Kepler aboard a Delta II 7925-10L rocket. United Launch Alliance is conducting the launch for NASA.

The NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is the home organization of the Science Principal Investigator and is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis.

Kepler mission development is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation of Boulder, Colo., is responsible for developing the Kepler flight system and supporting mission operations.

Related Links
NASA Television
Kepler
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com



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Pyongyang, North Korea (XNA) Feb 27, 2009
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