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Archive for 2005

18-Nov-05 | Strike continues

The machinists’ strike at Boeing continues to keep all Delta launches on hold. No word on the progress of negotiations, if any.

18-Nov-05 | Dawn told to “stand down”

Dawn, a NASA mission to visit two of the solar system’s biggest asteroids, Vesta and Ceres, has been told to stand down. Although budget constraints were cited as one of the reasons for the order, this does not necessarily mean the project is cancelled outright. An “independent assessment team” will review Dawn and file a report with NASA administration before a final decision is made. If the mission does move forward in the future, its launch aboard a Delta 7925-Heavy (previously scheduled for June 2006) should be expected to slip. (, 07-Nov-05)

04-Nov-05 | Strike puts Delta launches on hold

A strike by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, affecting employees at Boeing’s Huntington Beach, Calif., and Decatur, Ala., facilities as well as both Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg launch sites, has caused all pending Delta launch dates to be put on hold. This includes NASA’s CALIPSO and CloudSat missions, previously scheduled for 7 November, and probably NRO L-21, intended for later this month.

24-Oct-05 | Next launch

The next Delta launch will be NASA’s CALIPSO and CloudSat, riding aboard a Med-Lite 7420 with a Dual Payload Attach Fitting (DPAF). Launch was postponed from 26 October due to an issue with the flight termination system batteries aboard the Delta vehicle, and is now scheduled for no earlier than 7 November.

24-Oct-05 | 100,000 visits

Some time on Sunday, 23 October 2005, the hit counter for History of the Delta Launch Vehicle registered its 100,000th hit since the site first started keeping track, nearly eight years ago. Thanks for visiting!

11-Oct-05 | Mission extensions

Two NASA spacecraft, both launched aboard Delta rockets, may soon have a new lease on life as their primary missions come to an end. Deep Impact (Delta 311) is in a power-down mode and a safe “storage orbit” following its comet encounter in July, while Stardust (Delta 266) will complete its mission in early 2006 with the release and return to Earth of its sample canister. Both probes have functional instruments and reserves of power and fuel, so NASA is hoping that the scientific community will come up with workable proposals for useful follow-on misisons. A formal Announcement of Opportunity is expected later this autumn. (Spaceflight Now, 10-Oct-05)

05-Oct-05 | GP-B mission complete

Gravity Probe B has completed its primary mission, having collected more than 50 weeks of precision orbital data since its launch aboard Delta 304 on 20 April 2004. The data have been downloaded to computers at the mission operations center at Stanford University, where analysis and validation are expected to take as long as a year. Scientists hope the data will verify two effects predicted by Einstein: the geodetic effect of a mass warping local spacetime, and the frame-dragging effect of a rotating mass dragging spacetime around with it. (03-Oct-05 NASA Press Release)

05-Oct-05 | Swift

NASA has announced a major breakthrough in gamma ray astronomy, thanks in part to observations made by the Swift satellite (Delta 309). While long gamma-ray bursts (lasting 2 seconds or longer) are known to be caused by massive star explosions, the origin of short gamma-ray bursts remained a mystery — until now. These bursts are now believed to be caused by the collision of a neutron star with either another neutron star or a black hole. By quickly spotting a short burst on 09 May and autonomously relaying its coordinates to scientists around the world, a whole host of observatories — including Hubble, Chandra, and several ground-based telescopes — were able to study its afterglow in a wide range of spectra. (05-Oct-05 NASA Press Release)

26-Sep-05 | Delta flight 313 – NAVSTAR IIR-14 (M1)

The Air Force’s first “modernized” GPS satellite reached a perfect transfer orbit this morning on the wings of Delta flight 313. Official liftoff time was 23:37:00.531 EDT (25-Sep, or 03:37 on 26-Sep UTC), the very opening of the launch window — the result of a flawless countdown routine.

Once it reaches operational orbit (within the next several days), NAVSTAR IIR-M1 will begin a four-month shakedown cruise as Air Force controllers test its improved resistance to signal interference and confirm its interoperability with existing GPS satellites and receivers. It will ultimately replace NAVSTAR IIA-20, launched in 1993 aboard Delta 220, which has some useful life left and which will be moved to another slot in the constellation.

26-Sep-05 | Next launch

The next Delta launch will be NASA’s CALIPSO and CloudSat, riding aboard a Med-Lite 7420 with a Dual Payload Attach Fitting (DPAF). The pair will fly in close formation to “provide new insight into the role that clouds and airborne particles play in regulating Earth’s weather, climate, and air quality.” They are scheduled to launch from Vandenberg’s SLC-2W on 26 October.

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