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Archive for March, 2000

29-Mar-00 | Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander cancelled

Following the release of the Mars Program Independent Assessment Team’s report, NASA has announced the indefinite postponement (i.e. cancellation) of the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander mission. This 28-Mar-00 NASA Press Release highlights the MPIAT’s findings.

29-Mar-00 | Delta flight 277 – IMAGE

NASA’s IMAGE mission (Imager for Magnetopause to Aurora Global Exploration) was launched on schedule from Vandenberg’s SLC-2W on Saturday, 25 March. The Delta launch team had a flawless countdown, obviously having gathered no moss since the last flight from the west coast back in April 1999. The spacecraft was placed into a highly elliptical orbit with perigee of 540 nm and apogee of 24,796 nm. IMAGE, the first of NASA’s MIDEX (Medium-Class Explorer) series, will spend two years observing the response of the Earth’s magnetosphere to changes in the solar wind.

20-Mar-00 | Iridium declares bankruptcy

Iridium is kaput. The beleaguered company, in the throes of reorganisation following a declaration of bankruptcy in August 1999, has been unable to secure financing to remain afloat. Customer service was terminated at 23:59EST on 17 March, and the process of deorbiting a total of 88 satellites will begin soon.

Eleven Delta II vehicles launched the majority of Iridium’s satellites over an 18-month period. The demise of Iridium has made industry analysts nervous about the futures of other satellite telephony companies such as Globalstar, which just completed its primary constellation (on their seventh Delta flight), and ICO, which despite its own bankruptcy reorg is beginning to build its constellation. (The first ICO spacecraft was lost in a Sea Launch/Zenit vehicle failure on 12 March. As many as five satellites are intended to launch on Delta III vehicles in the next year.)

20-Mar-00 | NEAR operations

Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) has completed its first month of unprecedented observations of asteroid 433 Eros. The spacecraft has been renamed NEAR Shoemaker in honour of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, the late geologist perhaps most famous for his co-discovery of Shoemaker-Levy 9, the comet that slammed into Jupiter in 1994. NEAR Shoemaker is the first spacecraft to orbit any small body, and will spend a year in orbit making detailed observations and gentle burns to move ever closer to Eros. It was launched aboard Delta II flight 232 on 17 February, 1996.

20-Mar-00 | Videoroc images

Spaceflight Now has captured some beautiful still images and movies from Boeing’s Globalstar-7 “videoroc,” showing the satellites being deployed over a gorgeous, sun-lit Earth.



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