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19-Apr-03 | Delays, delays

The Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) has been delayed until no earlier than mid-August, NASA officials announced on Friday. (NASA Press Release, 18-Feb-03) The “unspecified concerns” of a week ago were revealed to be “multiple delaminations within the layers of material that comprise the engine-nozzle exit-cone liner” of one of the nine GEM-46 solid booster motors. As there is insufficient time to change out the questionable motor before 7 May, the payload and the entire vehicle will be destacked to clear Pad B for Mars Exploration Rover-B.

Meanwhile, the Mars Exploration Rovers have hit a snag as well. Pre-launch testing revealed the spacecraft’s main computer could misinterpret signals sent during data cable severing events. Two sets of cables connect the lander to the cruise stage (severed during approach) and the rover to the lander (severed before the rover drives off). The fix will require partial disassembly of the spacecraft, which pushed the first launch back from 30 May to 6 June. (Spaceflight Now, 14-Feb-03)


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