Chandra official first light image recorded by the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS).
Chandra's first focused image was of Cassopiea A, the 320 year old remnant of a massive star that exploded. The dramatic, detailed picture revealed a central point of light that may be the long sought neutron star or black hole that was produced in the explosion that created Cas A.
August 12, 1999
The Sunshade door opens allowing X-ray to enter the telescope for the first time.
At 2:00 p.m. EDT August 12, controllers commanded the separation of a pyrotechnic latch that has held the door closed since it was integrated with the telescope during the assembly process at TRW* in California. Seconds later, the120-pound, 9-foot diameter door swung open, allowing celestial X-ray light to reach the observatory's mirrors for the first time.
August 7, 1999
Chandra reaches its planned operating orbit.
At 1:43 a.m. EDT August 7, 1999 Chandra's engines were ignited for the fifth time to place it in its planned operating orbit. The seven-minute, 44-second firing of the observatory's Integral Propulsion System raised Chandra's perigee to an estimated 6,012 miles (9,676kilometers), leaving its apogee, or high point, essentially unchanged at 86,458 miles (139,141 kilometers).
July 23, 1999
Shuttle Columbia launched and the Chandra X-ray Observatory successfully deployed.
At 12:31 a.m. EDT Columbia lifted off with Chandra aboard. Deployment occurred at 7:47 a.m. An hour later the first of two solid rocket boosters was successfully fired and Chandra began its journey to reach its planned highly elliptical orbit, which should be complete August 4.
June 27, 1999
Chandra transferred into Columbia's payload bay.
The Chandra/IUS payload was moved into Columbia's payload bay and work was begun on the final connections. The orbiter/payload Interface Verification Test is scheduled for June 30.
June 16, 1999
Chandra and IUS-27 booster successfully complete Payload Readiness Review.
The Chandra X-ray Observatory and the associated Inertial Upper Stage (IUS-27) booster successfully completed the Payload Readiness Review. Chandra can now proceed to the next step of launch preparations which will be installation into the payload canister on June 18.
June 8, 1999
Launch planned for no earlier than July 20. End-to-end test on Chandra/IUS successful
Shuttle managers approved a plan that will have Columbia ready for launch no earlier than July 20.
The end-to-end test on Chandra/Inertial Upper Stage was successfully completed in the Vertical Processing Facility.
Columbia was rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly building on June 7, and placed on Launch Pad 39B.
June 1, 1999
Inertial Upper Stage-27 delivered to the VPF.
The Inertial Upper Stage-27 was delivered to the Vertical Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center from it checkout location at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Launch preparations have begun again for the Chandra X-ray Observatory on STS-93 no earlier than July 22.
Columbia is in the Orbiter Processing Bay 1 at Kennedy awaiting rollout to Pad 39B.
April 27, 1999
NASA decided to postpone mating Chandra with its IUS booster.
NASA decided to postpone mating the Chandra X-ray Observatory with its Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) booster, pending additional progress in the U.S. Air Force investigation into IUS problems with the April 9 launch of a Department of Defense satellite.
The DOD satellite failed to achieve a proper orbit because of an as yet undetermined problem with its IUS booster. The IUS is a two-stage solid rocket that will be used to help propel the Chandra observatory from low Earth orbit to its operating altitude nearly a third of the way to the moon.
March 17, 1999
A full state-of-health test successfully completed at KSC.
Chandra successfully completed an overall state-of-health test and the attitude control thrusters were helium flow-tested March 18 without issues. The solar arrays were installed on March 26 and testing of the mechanical and electrical interfaces is underway.
February 4, 1999
TRW* ships NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to KSC
TRW* in Redondo Beach, Calif., has shipped NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Cradled in the Space Cargo Transportation System which closely resembles the size and shape of the Shuttle cargo bay, Chandra was ferried to KSC aboard an Air Force C-5 Galaxy transporter. Over the next few months, the telescope will undergo final tests at KSC and be mated to a Boeing-provided Inertial Upper Stage for launch aboard Space Shuttle Columbia.
February 2, 1999
NASA decides to proceed with the shipment of Chandra TRW* to KSC, on Thurs, Feb. 4, 1999
NASA managers have decided to proceed with the shipment of Chandra from prime contractor TRW* Space and Electronics Group, Redondo Beach, CA to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 1999. The decision followed extensive testing and a thorough independent review of the potential problem with several printed circuit boards which revealed the need to replace two circuit boards in the interface unit, a part of the command and data management system. After the circuit boards are rebuilt by B.F. Goodrich Aerospace, Davis Systems Division in Albuquerque, NM, the unit will be reinstalled in the observatory at the Kennedy Space Center.
January 20, 1999
NASA delays shipment of the Chandra X-ray Observatory from TRW* to KSC
NASA announced that it will delay the planned shipment of the Chandra X-ray Observatory from TRW* in Redondo Beach, CA to the Kennedy Space Center, FL. The postponement will allow TRW* to evaluate and correct a potential problem with several printed circuit boards in the observatory's command and data management system.
January 14, 1999
TRW* unveils the completed Chandra X-ray Observatory
TRW* unveiled the completed Chandra X-ray Observatory for reporters. The ceremonial "rollout" was held at the company's satellite integration facilities in Redondo Beach, CA. In late January Chandra will be shipped to Kennedy Space Center, FL.
December 21, 1998
The Chandra X-ray Observatory to be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, on or before Jan. 28
AXAF has been renamed the Chandra X-ray Observatory in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. The Observatory will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL, on or before Jan. 28 and launched no earlier than April 8, 1999. The launch date will depend upon the actual shipping date and the results of a mid-February independent review of progress towards preparing the Cambridge, MA, operations center for launch.
October 13, 1998
NASA delays shipment of AXAF from TRW* to Kennedy Space Center
NASA will delay shipment of AXAF from TRW* Space and Electronics Group, CA, to Kennedy Space Center, FL, alllowing additional time for TRW* to complete testing of the observatory and to replace an electrical switching box. The remaining testing includes trouble-shooting and de-bugging some elements of the ground test and flight software. New shipment and launch dates will be confirmed after a review by NASA Chief Engineer Dr. Daniel Mulville.
July 7, 1998
AXAF successfully completes its thermal vacuum test.
AXAF has successfully completed its thermal vacuum test at TRW's* satellite integration facilities in Redondo Beach, CA. This test, the last major test before delivery to Cape Canaveral, allowed the AXAF contractor team to test satellite's hardware and software under operational conditions.
March 12, 1998
Assembly of AXAF is completed at TRW*!
Assembly of AXAF was completed last week at TRW* with the installation of its power-generating twin solar panels. The observatory is on schedule for launch aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-93 in December 1998.
February 13, 1998
NASA plans a 3 December launch of AXAF.
NASA is now planning a 3 December launch of AXAF. TRW* officials say they are "solidly on track" for a late summer delivery to Cape Canaveral.
TRW* experiences delays in assembly and testing of AXAF.
TRW* Space and Electronics Group at Redondo Beach, CA has notified NASA that it has experienced delays in assembly and testing of AXAF.
The delay is primarily due to TRW's* difficulty in configuring and programming its Integrated Spacecraft Automated Test System to test the observatory before it is delivered to NASA. It is anticipated that the launch of AXAF, originally scheduled for August 1998, will be pushed back to November 1998.
June - October 1997
The Mirror Assembly is shipped to TRW*.
The Mirror Assembly has been shipped to the Space and Electronics Group at TRW*, Redondo Beach, California, where it will be integrated with the spacecraft. The Science Instruments have been shipped to Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado, where they will be inserted into the science instrument module.
In October of 1997, the instruments and the module are due at TRW* in Redondo Beach. There the instruments will be put together with the spacecraft and mirror assembly, and the observatory will be tested as a unit for six months before being shipped to Cape Canaveral where it will undergo still more tests in preparation for the 1999 launch.
March - May 1997
The testing of the Scientific Instruments is completed.
The testing of the Scientific Instruments was completed in May of 1997. The thousands of individual tests that were performed on the instruments showed that they will enable astronomers to make X-ray images of the hot regions of the universe with unprecedented sharpness and sensitivity.
December 1996 - March 1997
AXAF support team at Marshall Space Flight Center completes a series of rigorous tests of the X-ray Mirror Assembly.
In early March 1997, the AXAF support team at Marshall Space Flight Center completed a series of rigorous tests of the X-ray Mirror Assembly at the X-ray calibration facility (XRCF) which was constructed specifically for testing AXAF.
The tests show that when the AXAF telescope is in space, it will produce X-ray images twenty-five times sharper than any previous X-ray telescope. The telescope's resolution is equivalent to being able to read the text of a newspaper from half a mile away.
February - December 1996
The coated mirrors are transported to Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, where they are assembled.
The coated mirrors were transported by an air-ride truck to Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, where they were assembled into a support structure and precisely aligned. From New York the telescope system was put aboard a C5 military transport aircraft, flown to Huntsville, Alabama, and delivered to the Marshall Space Flight Center. (See Telescope System and J. Johnston & B. Hahn Interview for more detail.)
July 1995 - February 1996
The coating of the mirrors with iridium is successfully completed.
The coating of the mirrors with iridium, a rare metal more reflective than gold, was successfully completed in early February of 1996, by Optical Coating Laboratories, Inc. in Santa Rosa, California. (See Telescope System for more detail.)
December 1991 - July 1995
The grinding and polishing of the grazing-incidence mirrors are completed.
The grinding and polishing of the four pairs of grazing-incidence mirrors were completed at Raytheon Optical Systems ahead of schedule. Measurements indicate that the mirrors exceed specifications at essentially all energies. (See Telescope System for more details.)
*TRW is now part of the Northrop Grumann of Redondo Beach, CA
Follow Chandra's construction, launch and telemetry path using Google Earth.