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Archive for 1998


31-Dec-98 | NEAR asteroid orbit insertion fails, will try again later

Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) orbit of asteroid 433 Eros has been postponed to February 2000. The spacecraft suffered a rough start during its first rendezvous burn and subsequently tumbled, leaving controllers out of communication for about 25 hours. Quick recovery allowed the spacecraft to take photos of Eros as it passed within 4,100 kilometres (2,500 miles) of the asteroid. A course correction burn is scheduled for 3 January, allowing NEAR to return to Eros for another attempt at orbit in just 13 months. NEAR was launched by Delta 232 in February 1996.


31-Dec-98 | MPL vehicle fairing installed

Mars Polar Lander has been encapsulated within its standard (9.5-foot) fairing. Both sit atop a Delta 7425 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 17B, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Launch is scheduled for 3 January. Currently weather conditions are not favourable for this date, but they are expected to improve considerably in the days that follow. Like MCO and Delta 247 (ACE), this flight will carry a ‘videoroc’ aboard the first stage.


28-Dec-98 | MCO’s first TCM

MPL’s sister ship in the Mars Surveyor 1998 program, Mars Climate Orbiter, launched from Cape Canaveral at 13:45 EST on 11 December. It was successfully placed into solar orbit, is in excellent health, and will reach Mars on approximately 23 September to begin a full Martian year of observations to better understand the seasonal changes on that planet. The Delta 7425 was so accurate that MCO’s first TCM burn only changed its velocity by 19.1 metres per second (less than 43 mph), and most of that was in order to remove a launch bias used to prevent the Star 48 third stage from impacting Mars.


24-Dec-98 | MGS resumes aerobraking

Mars Global Surveyor (Delta 239) had a successful apoapsis burn on 23 September and has resumed aerobraking. This will continue until early February, when its orbit is nearly circular and has a period of two hours. (Latest info)


24-Dec-98 | Next launch

Next launch from Vandenberg AFB will be Argos P-91, the largest experimental satellite ever flown by the Air Force. Its launch date has slipped yet again (though this time by only 6 days) and it is currently scheduled to fly on 14 January.


18-Dec-98 | Excellent Delta assembly photos online

There is currently no finer online source for great Delta assembly photos than this Mars Surveyor 98 Images & Photos site.


14-Dec-98 | DS-1 tests continue

Deep Space 1 is in excellent health and completed a two week period of ion engine thrusting on 8 December. Tests are now focussing on a plasma experiment, and communications via an advanced technology power amplifier.


14-Dec-98 | NEAR on approach

Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) will be the first spacecraft to orbit a near-Earth asteroid when it arrives at 433 Eros on approximately 10 January. NEAR snapped its first picture of Eros last month (a single pixel in the frame), is currently in nominal health following a safe mode event on 4 December, and has 3 burns scheduled before the new year to adjust its rendezvous approach. It was launched by Delta 232 in February 1996.


14-Dec-98 | Disturbing evidence from Polar spacecraft

“Researchers using NASA’s Polar spacecraft [Delta 233] have found the first direct evidence that bursts of energy from the Sun can cause oxygen and other gases to gush from Earth’s upper atmosphere into space.” (08-Dec-98 NASA Press Release).


11-Dec-98 | Delta flight 264 – Mars Climate Obriter

Mars Climate Orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral at 13:45 EST on 11 December. It was successfully placed into solar orbit and will reach Mars on approximately 23 September to begin a full Martian year of observations to better understand the seasonal changes on that planet. The Delta 7425 carried an aft-looking video camera aboard its interstage, providing exciting views as the vehicle passed through a cloud deck and jettisoned its booster motors.


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