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EMM will employ a 30-day Launch Period in the 2020 Mars launch opportunity, opening on July 14 and ending on August 12. EMM will utilize a Type 1 trajectory to Mars (211-day transit duration for the open of the launch period), arriving at Mars on February 2021, regardless of launch date.

The Observatory requires no day of launch parameter updates that are dependent on launch day within this Launch Period. The objective of the Launch Phase is to provide the subsequent Early Operations Phase with a Mars-bound Observatory that is confirmed operational. Specifically, Launch Phase will:

  • Configure the SC and perform final power down prior to launch, per satisfaction of Launch Commit Criteria
  • Liftoff on a Mitsubishi H-2A202 launch vehicle per satisfaction of Launch Commit Criteria
  • Perform initial power-on and configuration of the spacecraft upon launch vehicle separation
    • Power on heaters
    • Deploy solar arrays
    • Configure the telecom system for initial acquisition of signal at DSN’s Madrid, Spain complex
    • Bring the Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters on-line in blowdown configuration
    • Acquire sun point with Coarse Sun Sensors (CSS) on RCS thruster control
  • Ground command playback of recorded spacecraft telemetry post-Separation
  • Ground command Reaction Wheel Assembly (RWA) power on and acquire sun point with Inertial Reference Unit (IRU) and Star Trackers (ST) attitude knowledge, on-board ephemeris derived pointing vector, on RWA control
  • Ground command S/C to Nominal Mode, configure for EOP and exit Launch Phase The decision to transition to Nominal Phase and exit the Launch Phase will be based on the assessment of the flight team, after reviewing select telemetry confirming expected observatory status and health, following acquisition of signal (at ~Separation + 14-21 min depending on launch date). This assessment is expected to occur within an hour of acquisition of signal. However, there is no time criticality for the decision to transition to Point Mode, as the vehicle can remain in Safe State (CSS derived sun-point on RCS control) for several days if necessary, to meet communications, power and thermal requirements.