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Archive for February, 2000

27-Feb-00 | Old news…

During May 10-12, 1999, the solar wind that blows constantly from the Sun virtually disappeared in the most drastic and longest-lasting decrease ever observed. Four Delta-launched NASA spacecraft — Advanced Composition Explorer, WIND, Polar, and the venerable IMP-8 (launched in 1973) — observed the lull and its dramatic effect on the Earth. This NASA Press Release (13-Dec-99) details their contributions.

27-Feb-00 | Stardust deploys collector

Stardust (Delta 266) successfully deployed its interstellar dust collector on Tuesday, 22 February. This first of two collection phases will last until May. A gravity assist fly-by of Earth will occur in January 2001, followed by a 3 year cruise to Stardust’s encounter with comet Wild-2.

21-Feb-00 | Wanted: one payload

According to a recent Aviation Week article (18-Feb-00), Boeing is looking for a payload to replace ICO-D1, which is stranded in bankruptcy reorganisation limbo. The company may be forced to fly a dummy payload in its desire to prove the Delta III sound before mid-year.

15-Feb-00 | Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) has successfully entered orbit around asteroid 433 Eros!

At 15:33UTC on 14 February, NEAR fired its hydrazine thrusters for 57 seconds, slowing its trajectory enough to be captured by Eros’ weak gravity. About fifteen minutes later word reached Earth that the burn had completed as planned. Although scientists have only the vaguest idea of the mass of Eros, a fact that helped to make the rendezvous extraordinarily tricky, the resulting orbit wound up being roughly circular and very close to expectations. NEAR is the first spacecraft to orbit any small body, and will now settle in for a year of detailed observations and delicate orbit adjustments. It was launched aboard Delta II flight 232 on 17 February, 1996.

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.



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