Wed, Mar 15, 2006
Will Be Delayed "At Least" 48 Hours
NASA sources tell Aero-News a last-second problem with a locking
pin forced the agency to scrub Wednesday morning's planned launch
of an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket carrying three
microsatellites as part of NASA's New Millennium Program.
The locking pin, part of the rocket's flight control service
mechanism, failed to retract right before the Pegasus was to be
launched from the program's Lockheed L-1011 jet at 6:25 am. The
aircraft lifted off from Vandenberg AFB at approximately 6 am
Wednesday morning, and had climbed to the launch altitude of 39,000
The L-1011 landed safely back at Vandenberg, with the Pegasus
still firmly attached to beneath the aircraft's fuselage. Engineers
at NASA and Orbital Sciences Corporation will now work to figure
out what caused the malfunction.
NASA reports a new launch date will be established at the
earliest opportunity -- pending resolution of the issue, the
availability of the Western Range, and acceptable weather
conditions at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA launch site. The
delay will be at least 48 hours.
As Aero-News reported earlier this
week, the Space Technology 5 mission is designed to
test microsatellite technology in tracking space weather --
specifically, the strength of electrical currents in the
ionosphere. Should the mission prove successful, it will pave
the way for a wide range of uses for networked microsatellites.
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