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Archive for February, 1999

23-Feb-99 | Delta flight 267 – Argos P-91

Finally! After months of delays due to spacecraft hardware problems, and weeks due to vehicle hardware and the weather, Argos P-91, the largest experimental satellite ever flown by the Air Force, launched from Vandenberg AFB at 02:29 PST on 23 February.

Two hitchhiker payloads, ├śrsted from Denmark and Sunsat from South Africa, were also successfully deployed. Argos is carrying an array of 9 high technology experiments to demonstrate next-generation satellite technology.

Delta 267, thanks to the numerous delays in the development of Argos, spent at least one year (possibly close to two) in storage at Vandenberg, yet it needed only to be dusted off to be ready to fly. That, and the fact that the Aerojet second stage spent over a month loaded with highly corrosive hypergolic propellants without leaking, are testaments to the robustness of the Delta design. This flight set a record for Delta II launch attempts, 11, though most of the scrubs were not caused by the vehicle:

11-Feb-99 | NEAR to try again in 2000

Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) will orbit asteroid 433 Eros in February 2000. During its unanticipated fly-by in December, it acquired a large quantity of data on its future parent, as described in this 08-Feb-99 NASA Press Release. NEAR was launched by Delta 232 in February 1996.

10-Feb-99 | Delta flight 266 – Stardust

Stardust lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-17A at 16:04:15.238 EST on Sunday, 7 February, the second day of available instantaneous launch windows. Stardust, the fourth mission* in the NASA Discovery Program, will fly close to comet Wild-2 and will be the first spacecraft to return cometary material to Earth for analysis. The Delta 7426 provided yet another highly precise trajectory, according to launch commentators, and its second stage “videoroc” provided the most spectacular launch footage to date, transmitting stage and fairing separations with only minor static during staging events.



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