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History of the Delta Launch Vehicle

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Archive for 2000

08-Feb-00 | Loose screw found in Delta flight control hardware

Continuing a short spate of guidance computer troubles is the next launch from Vandenberg, where engineers have discovered a loose screw inside that vehicle’s RIFCA. The box will be swapped out and sent back to AlliedSignal (now part of Honeywell). This problem may be moot, however, as the IMAGE mission is under review in the wake of recent NASA mission failures. Thus the current launch date of early March is extremely tentative.

08-Feb-00 | Delta flight 276 – Globalstar 7

After a four month hiatus, the longest since 1995, Delta II returned to flight on 8 February with the seventh successful launch of four Globalstar satellites. The vehicle lifted off into cloudy skies at 16:24 EST after weather concerns forced a delay to the very end of the launch window. The satellites were deployed in pairs 67 and 72 minutes later, into nominal (but lower than previous Globalstar) parking orbits. One satellite completes that company’s constellation of 48, while the remaining three will be used as on-orbit spares.

08-Feb-00 | NEAR on approach

Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) (Delta 232) will perform Eros Orbit Insertion on 14 February. The first rendezvous burn took place on 3 February, a day late following a safe mode event triggered when controllers uploaded incorrect data to the attitude control system. A second burn of 23 seconds was executed flawlessly on 8 February. This encounter follows a missed attempt in December 1998, when a burn was aborted by tight software constraints that didn’t like the the engine’s rough (but nominal) start.

29-Jan-00 | Stardust on course

Stardust (Delta 266) had three TCM burns between 18 and 22 January, which put it on course for a gravity assist fly-by of Earth in January 2001. After that, another 3 years will pass before Stardust’s encounter with comet Wild-2.

29-Jan-00 | MPL and DS-2 both lost

Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 were both lost on 3 December, 1999. NASA abandoned the search in mid-January, but not before evidence surfaced that appears to show a deep canyon passing through the landing site.

29-Jan-00 | FUSE begins operations

FUSE (Delta 271) is beginning to open astronomers’ eyes following a seven-month shakedown phase. (12-Jan-00 NASA Press Release) This mission has a good chance of providing some disturbingly theory-tweaking observations, but since spectroscopy doesn’t usually include “pretty” pictures, FUSE may linger in undeserved obscurity.

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