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Asteroid mission still planned for July launch
Posted: Wed, Jun 27, 2007, 7:14 AM ET (1114 GMT)
Dawn spacecraft illustration (UCLA/W. Hartman) NASA is pressing ahead with plans to launch a spacecraft to the asteroid belt next month despite technical problems that could delay the launch until this fall. The Dawn mission is scheduled for launch on July 7 on a Delta 2 from Cape Canaveral. The launch has already been delayed a week because of a faulty crane at the launch site used to assemble the launcher; workers have also encountered mechanical problems with some vehicle components. In addition, a solar panel on the spacecraft suffered minor damage in a mishap last week, but that damage was repaired. If NASA can't launch the spacecraft by July 11 the launch would be delayed until September, at a cost of $25 million, to avoid delaying the August launch of the Phoenix mission to Mars. Dawn is a Discovery-class mission that will visit two of the largest asteroids in the main belt, Ceres and Vesta.
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