KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - At the Astrotech Space Operations processing facilities near KSC, a lift helps offload NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft shipped from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. MESSENGER - short for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging - will be taken into a high bay clean room and 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 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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