KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - In the high bay clean room at the Astrotech Space Operations processing facilities near KSC, workers remove the protective cover from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. Employees of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, builders of the spacecraft, will perform an initial state-of-health check. Then processing for launch can begin, including checkout of the power systems, communications systems and control systems. The thermal blankets will also be attached for flight. MESSENGER - short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging - will be launched May 11 on a six-year mission aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket. Liftoff is targeted for 2:26 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 11.
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