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Archive for 2010

09-Nov-10 | Delta flight 350 – COSMO-SkyMed 4

The 93rd consecutive success for Delta II has completed a radar-imaging constellation for the Italian military and government.

The launch of COSMO-SkyMed 4, from Vandenberg AFB on Friday evening local time (02:20 UTC on 6 November 2010), went off without issue after three previous attempts were scrubbed, two for main engine compartment heating systems, one for a low voltage reading in the second stage battery. As usual, Justin Ray provided a complete play-by-play in Spaceflight Now’s Mission Status Center.

This was the only Delta II launch for 2010, and the final scheduled commercial flight for the venerable rocket. Three flights for NASA are slated for 2011, and five vehicles remain unassigned. Boeing hopes to find commercial customers for those remaining rockets.

02-Nov-10 | Third scrub

With less than a minute remaining in the countdown of Delta 350, a hold was called due to a second stage battery voltage alarm. Since COSMO-SkyMed 4 requires an instantaneous launch window to reach its precise orbit, the hold resulted in a scrub for this third attempt to launch. The launch team will take a day of rest before making another attempt on Thursday evening. [UPDATE: the attempt was rescheduled to Friday when analysis determined that Thursday’s launch window would not provide optimal placement into the constellation.]

02-Nov-10 | Second scrub

A second shot at launching Italy’s COSMO-SkyMed 4 was scrubbed last night with about 2 minutes left in the countdown. Engineers noted insufficient flow in a gaseous nitrogen purge system in the vehicle’s main engine section, meant to “ensure that critical components in close proximity to cryogenic propulsion systems are kept warm,” according to a ULA press release. No word on whether this is related to the heater issue that scrubbed the previous night’s launch. A third attempt is scheduled for Tuesday evening, November 2 (local time).

31-Oct-10 | Launch scrubbed

A Halloween-evening launch—the only scheduled Delta II flight of 2010—has been scrubbed. An unspecified technical issue brought a halt to proceedings about 25 minutes before the instantaneous launch window, set for 02:20:07 UTC on November 1. [UPDATE, 1 Nov 16:45 CDT] A heater meant to keep the engine section warm during fueling failed to operate. A second attempt will be made this evening.

04-Feb-10 | NASA budget restructures NPOESS, leaves NPP intact

The White House’s FY2011 budget, much in the news this week for having forced NASA to abandon its Constellation program and a planned return to the Moon, has implications for our ongoing understanding of climate change that are at least as significant as those for human spaceflight. More



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