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Archive for December, 2002


20-Dec-02 | ICESAT/CHIPSAT delay

At Vanderberg Air Force Base, the flight of ICESAT and its co-payload CHIPSAT has been postponed. According to a NASA Launch Advisory, “During a review of test data, a problem within an ordnance box was found. The difficulty is associated with the signal this unit provides for launch vehicle devices to unlatch and separate the payload fairing. The removal and replacement of this unit and the associated retest will take approximately two weeks.” The launch of the two-stage Delta Med-Lite 7320 will occur no earlier than the evening of 11 January 2003.


20-Dec-02 | CONTOUR mission failure

NASA’s Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) has come to a disappointing end. Communication with CONTOUR was lost on 15 August during its Earth-orbit departure burn in what may have been a catastrophic failure. On 17 and 20 December, the largest antennae of the Deep Space Network were used to send commands instructing CONTOUR to transmit through its omnidirectional antenna in the hope that it might bleat out a response. None was heard, and mission operators will recommend to NASA that further attempts not be made, and the project formally closed down. The investigative board led by NASA Chief Engineer Theron Bradley is expected to release its preliminary findings in January.


07-Dec-02 | New NASA/Boeing launch contract

NASA and Boeing Launch Services have inked a contract for 19 Delta II vehicles to launch NASA and NASA-sponsored medium-class scientific payloads. The contract, with a potential total value of $1.2 billion, calls for 12 firm launches and 7 options, to launch in 2006 (7), 2007 (6), 2008 (2), and 2009 (4). (NASA Contract Release, 06-Dec-02)


02-Dec-02 | StarLight grounded

According to this JPL web site, the StarLight interferometry mission has been reduced to ground demonstrator status, thus cancelling a spacecraft launch aboard a Delta II in 2005-06. The project will instead work toward developing “technologies that support formation flying interferometry for TPF [Terrestrial Planet Finder],” due to launch aboard an EELV around 2012. Thanks to Gunter Krebs for the update.


02-Dec-02 | Contest: Name the Mars rovers

NASA/JPL has joined with The LEGO Company and The Planetary Society to conduct a contest to name the pair of Mars Exploration Rovers that will launch aboard separate Delta II rockets in 2003. (Unfortunately for we older spaceheads the contest is open only to K-12 students; this LEGOmaniac hopes as consolation that a scale LEGO model of the rovers is in the works.)


     

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