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Archive for July, 2000

16-Jul-00 | Next launch

The launch of flight 279 has cleared the way for Boeing to focus on the next Delta launch, which will be the return-to-flight of Delta III, designated DM-F3, carrying a dummy payload to geostationary transfer orbit. The payload simulates “the mass and frequency characteristics of common commercial communication payloads sized for Delta III,” specifically a Hughes HS-601HP, and will travel a nearly identical flight profile to that of Delta 269, which left Orion 3 stranded in an incorrect orbit. (Boeing press release)

16-Jul-00 | Delta flight 279 – NAVSTAR IIR-5

A Delta II 7925 vehicle lifted off at the opening of its window this morning, successfully placing NAVSTAR 2R-5 into its proper transfer orbit.

Delta flight 279 left Pad 17A at an official range time of 5:17:00.450 EDT. Thanks to the generosity of a friend at Boeing, I was lucky enough to witness the launch from a guest site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. By the reckoning of my GPS receiver, appropriately enough, the stands were about 2.7 miles from the pad and offered a great view. From the top of the bleachers, the tips of the solid booster motors could be seen above a distant stand of trees. With cloud banks fringing the horizon and a full moon in the western sky, the weather was perfect. A steady breeze kept mosquitoes to a minimum, despite the dire warnings of the efficient and friendly base personnel.

The countdown was almost frighteningly quiet. No vehicle problems were reported. No weather issues or COLAs (collision avoidance periods) came up. The Air Force’s new emphasis on providing adequate marine alerts to the local community (along with the early morning hour) kept any fishing boats from wandering into the debris danger zone. Nothing stood in the way of an on-time launch.

An hour before sunrise, the rocket rose into the dark sky atop a blinding glare and lit up the humid air with a hazy grey glow. Just over a minute into the flight, the air-lit solids burst into action and the spent ground-lits dropped away. The orange glow from the tails of all 6 motors could be seen twinkling as they tumbled. Before the remaining 3 solids could be jettisoned, the vehicle disappeared from view over the thick cloud bank to the east.

NAVSTAR 2R-5, a Global Positioning System replenishment satellite, entered its 101 x 10998 nautical mile transfer orbit less than 26 minutes after liftoff. In about 2 days, the onboard AKM will fire to circularise the orbit. Sixteen more GPS 2R satellites are manifested aboard Delta II. After that will be the end of an era dating back to 1989, as the next-generation GPS 2F satellites are included in the Air Force’s EELV contract for Delta IV rockets.

06-Jul-00 | DS-1 restarts engine after rescue succeeds

Way cool! Deep Space 1 (Delta 261) has restarted its ion engine for the first time since the loss of its star tracker, following a significant rescue mission. Program manager Dr. Marc Rayman’s giddy mission log has the full story.



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