Forwarded by: fwestra@...
Originally from: "Mulcahy, Christopher" <cmulcahy@...
Original Subject: Recent Taurus Launch Failure
Original Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 12:57:38 -0400
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An Orbital Sciences Taurus 2110 failed to remain in orbit after launch
from Vandenberg's pad 576E on Sep 21. A problem a few seconds after
first stage separation caused the T6 rocket to go off course; the rocket
recovered and the remainder of the stages fired, but velocity appears to
have been just too low to reach a sustainable orbit.
Launch was at 1849 UTC on Sep 21; the Castor 120 first stage (or Stage
0 in Orbital's nomenclature) burn lasted about 83 seconds, and after its
separation the Orion 50S motor ignited - it was at this point that
things went awry. The Orion 50S separated at 1851 UTC and was followed
by the Orion 50 motor burn. The three Orion motors used in Taurus' upper
stages are the same motors used in the Pegasus rocket. At 1857 UTC the
Orion 38 final stage separated from the lower stages; at this stage it
was intended to burn from a -3000 x 465 km x 97 deg orbit to a circular
476 x 482 km x 97 deg orbit. A 150m/s velocity shortfall would be enough
to leave the payloads with a negative perigee.
At 1900 UTC the Orbview-4 satellite separated from the top of the Aft
Payload Capsule (APC). At 1902 UTC the APC top half separated; it had
been covering the QuikTOMS and SBD. At 1903 UTC the QuikTOMS separated
from the SBD satellite, which remained attached to the final stage.
At about 1902 UTC all these objects crossed the equator at an altitude
of around 427 km, heading south. Impact would have been between
1930 and 1945 UTC, in a region from the S Indian Ocean stretching up to
the sea east of Kenya, depending on the perigee, from 45-60E and between
60S and 10S.
The primary payload on T6 was the OrbView-4 imaging satellite.
OrbView-4, built by Orbital, was a 368 kg box-shaped satellite
carrying a 1-m resolution panchromatic camera and an 8-m
resolution 200-channel hyperspectral imager with a 0.45-meter aperture.
It was to be used by the US Air Force.
The second payload was the QuikTOMS satellite (and would it really have
been so hard to spell Quick correctly?), a NASA-GSFC project carrying
the TOMS-5 ozone mapper. QuikTOMS was a 168 kg double Microstar and
replaced TOMS instruments on a delayed Russian weather satellite and the
failed ADEOS. The loss of QuikTOMS may put a hole in NASA's attempts to
monitor the ozone layer.
The third payload was SBD, the Orbital Special Bus Design. The 73 kg
satellite was a test version of an enlarged Microstar bus. It
would have remained attached to the third stage, together with
two Celestis burial canisters containing cremated human remains,
and an experimental third stage avionics box.
All previous Taurus launches were successful; all launches have been
from pad 576E at Vandenberg. There are two main variants of Taurus flown
to date, one with the first stage of the Peacekeeper missile, and one
with its Castor 120 commercial equivalent.
Taurus Date Variant Stage 0 type Payload
T1 1994 Mar 13 1110 MX USAF STEP M0
T2 1998 Feb 20 2210 Castor 120 GFO/Orbcomm
T3 1998 Oct 3 1110 MX NRO STEX
T4 1999 Dec 21 2110 Castor 120 KOMPSAT/ACRIMSAT
T5 2000 Mar 12 1110 MX USAF/DoE MTI
T6 2001 Sep 21 2110 Castor 120 OV-4/QuikTOMS/SBD
The Lockheed Martin Athena-1, scheduled for launch from Kodiak Island,
also uses the Castor 120 first stage.
Analytical Graphics, Inc.
Phone Direct: +1-610-578-1111
Phone Toll Free: +1-888-785-9973
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