Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Fw: SpaceViews -- 1999 December 8

Expand Messages
  • Jeroen Kumeling
    ... Van: jeff@spaceviews.com Aan: undisclosed-recipients:; Datum: donderdag 9 december 1999 0:36 Onderwerp:
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 1999
    • 0 Attachment
      -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
      Van: jeff@... <jeff@...>
      Aan: undisclosed-recipients:; <undisclosed-recipients:;>
      Datum: donderdag 9 december 1999 0:36
      Onderwerp: SpaceViews -- 1999 December 8

      |[To unsubscribe follow the instructions at the end of this message.]
      | S P A C E V I E W S
      | Issue 1999.12.08
      | 1999 December 8
      | http://www.spaceviews.com/1999/1208/
      |*** Special Report: Mars Polar Lander ***
      | Mars Polar Lander, Deep Space Two Presumed Lost
      | Future Mars Missions to Be Reconsidered
      | At Planetfest, Concern and Confidence
      | Mars Web Sites Weather One-Day Storm of Traffic
      | Editorial: What Does the Loss of MPL Really Mean?
      |*** News ***
      | Another Wiring Problem Delays Shuttle Launch
      | Ariane Launches French Spysat
      | Pegasus Launches ORBCOMM Satellites
      | SOHO Recovering from Safe Mode
      | Air Force Launch Delayed
      | SpaceViews Event Horizon
      | Other News
      |[Editor's Note: For full coverage of the Mars Polar Lander mission,
      | check out the special section on our Web site, with additional articles,
      | links, polls, and other features about the mission:
      | http://www.spaceviews.com/features/mars/ .]
      | ***********************************************************************
      | * Hubble Space Telescope -- "Rescue 1-0-3" T-shirts, ISS flight *
      | * suits, and Lil' Astronaut infant/toddler apparel are just some *
      | * of the items on sale for Christmas shopping at Countdown Creations. *
      | * Countdown Creations -- Apparel for the Space Pioneer *
      | * http://www.countdown-creations.com *
      | ***********************************************************************
      | *** Special Report: Mars Polar Lander ***
      | Mars Polar Lander, Deep Space Two Presumed Lost
      | A mission that was to restore confidence in NASA's Mars
      |exploration program may instead halt the program for the foreseeable
      |future, as officials admit that the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) and Deep
      |Space Two (DS2) missions are almost certainly lost for reasons that
      |may never be fully known.
      | MPL and DS2 were scheduled to land on the Martian surface
      |shortly after 3 pm EST (2000 UT) Friday, December 3. Contact with the
      |spacecraft was cut off as planned a few minutes before the spacecraft
      |entered the Martian atmosphere, but by midday Wednesday, December 8,
      |had not been restored.
      | The earliest opportunity to hear from MPL was at 3:39 pm EST
      |(2039 UT) Friday, had everything worked as planned. However, no
      |transmissions were received on Earth from the lander at that time, nor
      |during a separate pass shortly after 5 pm EST (2200 UT) in the event
      |the spacecraft had gone into a protective safe mode immediately upon
      | As the silence dragged on, controllers radioed commands to the
      |lander to instruct it to sweep its medium-gain antenna across the sky
      |in a "raster scan", in the event the antenna was not precisely aimed
      |at Earth. Those attempts, on Friday and Saturday night, also failed
      |to generate a signal.
      | Hoping that something was wrong only with the medium-gain
      |antenna, controllers listened for a signal Sunday, December 5, at 1:50
      |pm EST (1850 UT) from a separate, omnidirectional UHF antenna. Those
      |signals would be relayed to Earth by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS)
      |spacecraft, but nothing was detected.
      | After another raster scan effort failed Sunday night, the
      |project team "played its last ace", in the words of project manager
      |Richard Cook, and listened again around 3:20 am EST (0820 UT) Tuesday
      |morning, December 7, for another signal from MPL's UHF antenna.
      |Again, nothing was heard.
      | Moreover, the two DS2 microprobes, named Scott and Amundsen,
      |were scheduled to start transmitting their data back to earth via the
      |relay antenna on MGS Friday evening. No data was received during five
      |passes Friday night.
      | At 29 and 32 hours after landing, each probe was designed to
      |enter an autotransmit mode, during which the probe transmitted for one
      |minute out of every five, without first waiting for a signal from MGS
      |to start transmitting. Autotransmit mode reduces the battery life of
      |the probes from a few days to between 5-16 hours, so when no signal
      |was received by late Sunday, project officials assumed the worst.
      | Despite the silence from the probes, project officials say a
      |few more attempts will be made to listen for signals from the
      |spacecraft over the next two weeks, but hold out little hope that
      |these efforts will be successful.
      |Investigating the Failure
      | The emphasis of the mission will now turn to investigations
      |into the cause of the failed missions, with separate review panels to
      |be set up by JPL and NASA headquarters. No specific announcements
      |regarding these review panels had been made by midday Wednesday,
      |December 8.
      | Their work will be hampered by a lack of data during the
      |critical time in the mission when the spacecraft entered the Martian
      |atmosphere and descended to the surface. Limitations of the
      |spacecraft antenna meant that, for the spacecraft to enter the proper
      |attitude for reentry, the spacecraft had to turn and break off
      |communications with Earth. Contact was to be reestablished after
      |landing, but never was.
      | Since both MPL and the two DS2 microprobes failed,
      |investigators will undoubtedly look for any single causes that could
      |explain all three failures. One possibility is that the cruise stage
      |of the spacecraft failed to separate as planned shortly before
      |atmospheric entry. The jettison of the cruise stage from the lander
      |also triggers the separation of the DS2 microprobes, so a failure
      |there could explain the loss of all three missions.
      | The cruise stage, a ring-shaped section with solar panels
      |attached, separates from the lander after six pyrotechnic charges are
      |fired. All six must fire successfully for the cruise ring to
      |separate. However, project officials note the "pyros" are very
      |reliable, and that more of them were used on the Mars Pathfinder
      |mission without any problems.
      | Separate causes for each spacecraft's failure are also being
      |considered. DS2 project manager Sarah Gavit noted that the predicted
      |landing site of the two microprobes included a large crater, whose
      |steep slopes and rocky terrain could prevent a successful landing and
      |penetration by the probes. Moreover, sand dunes thought to exist
      |within the crater could swallow up the probes without a trace.
      | For a successful MPL landing, a series of events had to be
      |successful, including the deployment of a parachute, separation of the
      |heat shield, and firing of the descent engine. Last month there was
      |concern that propellant lines for the descent engine might be too cold
      |to permit the engine to work properly, but that problem was apparently
      |solved by turning on heaters within the spacecraft several hours
      |earlier than planned.
      | Any investigation into the loss of MPL and DS2 is expected to
      |take months, and is expected to turn up not only technical reasons for
      |the failure, but programmatic and managerial problems, as was the case
      |with the failed Mars Climate Orbiter mission earlier this year.
      | The impact of the failed Mars missions on future missions to
      |the Red Planet is unknown, although top NASA officials, including
      |administrator Dan Goldin, have suggested that they would be willing to
      |postpone the orbiter and lander mission scheduled for launch in 2001
      |if deemed necessary.
      | Those involved with the project hope to continue the
      |exploration of our neighboring world. "What we're trying to do is
      |very, very difficult," Cook said. "We hope people, and children in
      |particular, will see from this experience that the mark of a great
      |person, or group of people, is the ability to persevere in the face of
      | Future Mars Missions to Be Reconsidered
      | A series of future NASA missions to the Red Planet will likely
      |be reconsidered in the light of the apparent loss of four Mars
      |spacecraft this year, top NASA officials said Tuesday, December 7.
      | NASA administrator Dan Goldin told the Associated Press
      |Tuesday that "everything is on the table" in regards to NASA's plans
      |for future Mars missions, including the possibility of skipping the
      |next Mars launch window in 2001.
      | That announcement comes as even the most optimistic NASA
      |officials recognized that there was little hope in contacting the Mars
      |Polar Lander (MPL) and two Deep Space Two (DS2) spacecraft, which have
      |presumably been lost just two and a half months after the Mars Climate
      |Orbiter mission also failed.
      | The loss of all four spacecraft, collectively known as Mars
      |Surveyor 1998, leaves a gaping hole in NASA's ambitious Mars
      |exploration efforts, designed to culminate in less than a decade with
      |the return of samples from Mars.
      | Under the current plan, two more spacecraft would be launched
      |in 2001. The Mars Surveyor 2001 orbiter would carry instruments to
      |map the elemental and mineralogical composition of the Martian
      |surface, while the Mars Surveyor 2001 lander would touch down near the
      |Martian equator and carry instruments to study the surface in great
      |detail. The lander would also carry a rover, named Marie Curie, that
      |is an upgraded version of the Sojourner rover brought to Mars in 1997
      |by Mars Pathfinder.
      | In 2003, NASA would send only a lander to Mars, but that
      |lander, considerably larger than the 2001 lander or MPL, would include
      |a more advanced rover. That rover would collect soil and rock samples
      |and return them to the lander, which would transfer them into a small
      |rocket also included on the lander. That rocket would then launch the
      |samples into orbit for later retrieval.
      | The 2003 lander would be joined by Mars Express, a European
      |orbiter with some American participation. Mars Express will also
      |carry its own lander, Beagle 2, provided by Great Britain. Nozomi,
      |Japan's first Mars mission, is scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2003 as
      |well. That spacecraft was launched in 1998 and was scheduled to go
      |into orbit this year, but a thruster problem forced engineers to put
      |Nozomi on a more efficient, but delayed, trajectory.
      | In 2005 NASA plans another lander that will be virtually
      |identical to the 2003 lander. In addition, as part of a cooperative
      |agreement with the French space agency CNES, a French-built orbiter
      |will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket. Once in orbit around Mars, it
      |will capture the two Mars sample capsules cached in orbit by the NASA
      |landers and return to Earth, arriving in 2008.
      | That ambitious plan has been put into jeopardy by the loss of
      |the 1998 missions. "If the '98 lander were lost, it would have an
      |impact on the 2001 mission," said Carl Pilcher, director of solar
      |system exploration at NASA Headquarters, during a December 4 press
      |conference that discussed these future missions.
      | Some changes will be technical in nature. One criticism of
      |Mars Polar Lander is that no radio contact was possible from the
      |spacecraft from just prior to entry into the Martian atmosphere to
      |more than 20 minutes after its scheduled landing time. This planned
      |lack of signal has deprived project engineers with key data that would
      |help them diagnose exactly what could have gone wrong with the
      |mission, as the lander was having no problems prior to communications
      |cutoff but was never heard from again.
      | MPL project manager Richard Cook said that, in light of these
      |problems, engineers would work to include antennas on the 2001 lander
      |that would be able to transmit during the entry, descent, and landing
      |phase of the mission, as was the case with Mars Pathfinder.
      | While technical improvements may be made to future missions,
      |there is more likely to be significant changes in how future missions
      |are managed, especially in light of the management problems
      |surrounding the Mars Climate Orbiter mission.
      | "Clearly something is wrong, and we have to understand it,"
      |Goldin told the AP. "It is conceivable that we will completely change
      |our approach."
      | By saying that "everything is on the table", sources say that
      |Goldin is willing to consider sweeping changes, including
      |reconsideration of the roles played by Lockheed Martin as prime
      |contractor for the spacecraft and JPL as the lead center for NASA's
      |Mars exploration program.
      | Goldin also seems willing to adjust the schedule of missions,
      |and skip the next launch window that opens in early 2001, if deemed
      |necessary. "We're not going to just go rushing off and build a
      |spacecraft just to meet an arbitrary deadline," he said.
      | While Goldin told the AP he was unwilling to use the failed
      |missions as an excuse to "raid the federal government" for additional
      |money, some say that the lack of funds -- and Goldin's acceptance of
      |steadily decreasing NASA budgets during his tenure -- is the problem
      |with the program.
      | Noting Goldin's "better, faster, cheaper" philosophy, Keith
      |Cowing, editor of the NASA Watch Web site, puts the recent Mars
      |failures in perspective with other problems with the space shuttle,
      |International Space Station, and reusable launch vehicle development
      |efforts. "Cheaper? Yes," Cowing concludes of NASA today. "Better?
      |No. Faster? No."
      | At Planetfest, Concern and Confidence
      | Mirroring the statements of project officials, members of the
      |general public attending the Planetfest conference in Pasadena
      |expressed concern about the lack of contact with the Mars Polar Lander
      |and Deep Space 2 spacecraft, but were optimistic contact would be
      | Planetfest '99, a three-day event organized by The Planetary
      |Society, was designed to coincide with the landing of MPL and DS2.
      |Images, sounds, and other data returned by the spacecraft were
      |designed to be an integral part of the event.
      | Because of the problems with the mission, though, the several
      |thousand attendees were left to wait and wonder about the fate of the
      |spacecraft, keeping faith that project officials at JPL would pull off
      |the mission.
      | "I'm a little bit disappointed that we haven't made contact
      |yet," said Stuart Brody, traveled to Planetfest from Syosset, New
      |York, "but I'm still cautiously optimistic."
      | "I think they have a pretty good handle on what they're
      |doing," said Dave Gross of Alhambra, California. "We're a long way
      |from giving up on it."
      | Their spirits were buoyed by experts presenting talks
      |throughout the conference. "There's no reason to believe that the
      |spacecraft is not safely on the surface," said project scientist
      |Richard Zurek.
      | Even in the worst-case scenario, the loss of Mars Polar Lander
      |should not have a major impact on government support for upcoming Mars
      |missions, advised John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute
      |at George Washington University. Congress is current out of session,
      |he noted, and by the time they reconvene they will have forgotten
      |about the mission.
      | In addition, he said, with planning for the fiscal year 2001
      |near complete, it is unlikely the Clinton Administration will make any
      |drastic changes for the next missions, scheduled for launch in 2001.
      | The lack of data from MPL, though, has not created a lack of
      |activities at Planetfest. A wide range of talks, exhibits, and other
      |events have kept the Pasadena Convention Center busy. "I think the
      |event has been very successful otherwise," said Brody.
      | Among the highlights of the event is an exhibit from the
      |producers of the upcoming movie Mission to Mars, about the first human
      |missions to the Red Planet. A full-scale version of a rover used in
      |the movie was at the exhibit, and people involved with the movie,
      |including actor Gary Sinise and former astronaut Story Musgrave, who
      |served as an advisor, participated in a discussion about the movie.
      | A real-life mission to Mars would have no shortage of
      |volunteer astronauts at Planetfest, including Jason Steel, who
      |traveled from San Diego for the event. "Sure," he quipped, "give me a
      |ticket and I'll go."
      | Mars Web Sites Weather One-Day Storm of Traffic
      | Despite the presumed failure of the Mars Polar Lander and Deep
      |Space Two missions, Web sites providing news and other information
      |about the missions still recorded heavy traffic.
      | While traffic on December 3, the scheduled landing date, was
      |more intense than any day of the Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997, the
      |lack of communications with the lander means the traffic is unlikely
      |to be sustained.
      | The official Mars Polar Lander Web site at JPL, and its
      |network of mirror sites, recorded at least 54.8 million hits on
      |December 3. By comparison, on its busiest day -- July 8, 1997 -- the
      |Mars Pathfinder Web site logged nearly 47 million hits.
      | That 54.8 million hit figure corresponds to at least one
      |million, and up to five million, separate visits to the MPL Web site,
      |according to MPL webmaster Ron Baalke.
      | As with the Pathfinder mission, JPL set up a network of mirror
      |sites to distribute the traffic, with traffic to the JPL site being
      |redirected to these mirrors at peak times. A majority of Friday's
      |traffic -- 31.2 million hits -- was logged by a single mirror site at
      |computer company SGI, while JPL's site recorded nearly 19.7 million
      | However, on the day after the landing, the last day for which
      |statistics were available, traffic had dropped off considerably, with
      |only 18.5 million hits recorded at JPL and its mirror sites. That
      |dropoff is a likely a combination of a lack of data received from the
      |lander, as well as reduced Web traffic on weekends in general.
      | Another Web site, marspolarlander.com, also recorded heavy
      |traffic. The site, operated at UCLA by the science team for the main
      |instrument package on the lander, registered 30 to 35 million hits,
      |according to webmaster Anil Madhavapeddy.
      | That Web site was criticized in a press release by Keynote
      |Systems, a Web site performance monitoring company, which claimed that
      |the site was "unresponsive" for over three hours starting around the
      |scheduled landing time Friday.
      | That problem was not due to a lack of capacity with that site's
      |servers, but a configuration problem when a news media organization
      |inadvertently published an internal URL for the site at UCLA, swamping
      |the local networks with traffic until the problem could be corrected.
      | "Aside from one small problem which took our network down for
      |a couple of hours, we've been running flawlessly since," said
      |Madhavapeddy, who noted that the site's servers are handing "millions
      |of hits" while requiring only a small fraction of the servers' CPU
      | "The Web site is performing precisely as designed," said David
      |Paige, associate professor of planetary science at UCLA.
      | Other Web sites, particularly those providing streaming video
      |of NASA TV and other video feeds, also reported heavy traffic, site
      |slowdowns, and crashes.
      | Editorial: What Does the Loss of MPL Really Mean?
      | On July 4, 1997, like millions of other people, I forsook the
      |usual Independence Day activities of picnics and fireworks and stayed
      |at home, one eye on the computer and the other on the television, as
      |Mars Pathfinder successfully landed on the Red Planet. As the
      |pictures, first a few grainy black-and-white images, but soon followed
      |by colorful panoramas, showed the stark beauty of an alien world, I
      |felt a sense of wonder and awe.
      | Fast forward to the evening of December 5, 1999. As I pull
      |out of the parking lot at JPL, to drive to the airport to catch a
      |flight home, there is no sense of wonder and awe. Besides a pounding
      |headache from too much work in the JPL newsroom and too little sleep
      |and food, there's a sense this time of disappointment -- about the
      |apparent failure of MPL and DS2 -- and pessimism, about the fate of
      |NASA's future Mars plans.
      | It seems unlikely at this time if we'll ever know what
      |happened to MPL and DS2: there are simply too many possible failures,
      |and too little data even to determine which one is most likely. The
      |inevitable investigations, though, will certainly turn up a litany of
      |technical problems, and most likely some managerial and other problems
      |with the project itself, much as was the case for Mars Climate
      | The failure will be in the popular media for a few weeks to
      |come, too, as fodder for late-night talk show hosts, if nothing else.
      |"The popular press loves a failure," notes Richard Berendzen of
      |American University. Indeed, MPL has already gained the late 1990s
      |version of infamy: the spacecraft made a brief appearance as a bidding
      |item on the online auction site eBay, before humorless site operators
      |removed the listing. (Also available for a time on eBay were "landing
      |and operating instructions" for the lander. "Mint condition; never
      |used," advised the seller.)
      | The longer term impact is harder to gauge now, less than a
      |week after the spacecraft were lost. By the time Congress reconvenes
      |in January, MPL may be a distant memory. And even if NASA decides to
      |postpone the planned 2001 missions, would that really make a big
      |difference? After all, we waited two decades from the time of Vikings
      |1 and 2 until Mars Pathfinder and Global Surveyor.
      | One topic that might be affected, though, are plans for human
      |missions to Mars. The Mars Society has been pushing Presidential
      |candidates for the year 2000 election to commit to plans for human
      |missions. How likely now, though, is it that a President Bradley,
      |Bush, Gore, or McCain would talk in 2001 of plans for humans to Mars
      |within a decade, when we haven't demonstrated our ability to get there
      |reliably with robots?
      | Even so, it's hard to believe that we will turn our backs on
      |Mars permanently because of these recent setbacks. Humans have been
      |seriously pondering missions to Mars for decades; even in the low ebb
      |of America's space program in the late 1970s, these thoughts
      |persisted. At worst, visions of missions to Mars are dreams deferred,
      |not denied. And I look forward to the day, a couple years or more
      |down the road, when spacecraft return to Mars, and rekindle that sense
      |of wonder and awe we felt on that magical Fourth of July, 1997.
      |[What do you think the loss of Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space Two
      | means for NASA and Mars exploration? Let us know at
      | letters@...; a sampling of letters will be published in future
      | issues. You can also vote in a poll about what NASA should do with its
      | Mars exploration program at http://www.spaceviews.com/ .]
      | *** News ***
      | Another Wiring Problem Delays Shuttle Launch
      | The latest in a series of wiring problems will delay the
      |launch of the shuttle Discovery by nearly 24 hours, shuttle managers
      |announced Tuesday, December 7.
      | While performing a routine check of the shuttle's engine
      |compartment Monday, technicians discovered a 0.3-cm (1/8th-inch) nick
      |in a wire used to provide command and feedback support for the number
      |two main engine. After Monday afternoon meeting, managers decided to
      |replace the wire.
      | Shuttle managers decided Tuesday to delay the launch nearly 24
      |hours. While the shuttle will still launch Saturday, December 11
      |(Eastern Standard Time), the time of the launch has been pushed back
      |from 12:13 am EST (0513 UT) to 11:42 pm EST (0442 UT December 12).
      | With the new launch date, the shuttle would complete its
      |nearly 10-day mission with a landing back at the Kennedy Space Center
      |Tuesday, December 21 at about 8:50 pm EST (0150 UT December 22).
      | The announcement is the latest in a series of wiring glitches
      |and other problems that have delayed the launch of mission STS-103 by
      |two months. On December 2, NASA announced the most recent delay, a
      |two-day slip to December 11, to allow time to perform a number of
      |minor fixes to the shuttle.
      | The Associated Press reported over the weekend that another
      |slip was possible because paperwork certifying that specific checks
      |had been made to shuttle systems had not been properly filled out.
      |Kennedy Space Center officials said Monday, though, that the paperwork
      |glitch would not affect the launch schedule.
      | The December 11 date already leaves managers with little
      |flexibility in the event of further delays. NASA officials have
      |previously said that they would not launch the shuttle after December
      |14, which would require a landing on Christmas Eve. NASA wants to
      |avoid having the shuttle in orbit over Christmas, as well as over the
      |New Year in the unlikely event of Y2K computer problems, thus if the
      |launch does not occur by the 14th it would be delayed until January.
      | The Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission took on a new
      |urgency last month when the orbiting observatory entered a safe mode
      |after a fourth gyro failed, leaving the telescope without sufficient
      |pointing accuracy to perform scientific observations.
      | Four astronauts will perform a series of spacewalks during the
      |mission to replace the gyros on Hubble, as well as make computer and
      |electronic upgrades to the telescope.
      | Ariane Launches French Spysat
      | An Ariane 4 booster successfully launched a French
      |reconnaissance satellite early Friday, December 3.
      | The Ariane 40 booster, the version of the Ariane 4 that uses
      |no strap-on boosters, lifted off on schedule at 11:22 am EST (1622 UT)
      |from the Ariane launch site in French Guiana.
      | The booster successfully placed into a Sun-synchronous orbit
      |the Helios 2 satellite 18 minutes and 25 seconds after launch. No
      |problems were reported with the launch or the spacecraft.
      | Helios 2, built by Matra Marconi, is primarily a French
      |military satellite, with participation by the Italian and Spanish
      |governments. The satellite will provide high-resolution images for
      |their countries' militaries.
      | Also on the booster as a secondary payload was Clementine, a
      |satellite built by the French companies Alcatel Space and Thomson-CSF.
      |Not to be confused with the American moon mission of the same name
      |several years ago, Clementine will study the terrestrial
      |radio-electric environment from orbit.
      | The launch was the eighth Ariane launch of 1999, and the 50th
      |consecutive overall success for the Ariane 4. Two more Ariane 4
      |launches are scheduled for this year: the December 10 launch of the
      |XMM x-ray observatory for the European Space Agency on an Ariane 5,
      |and the December 21 launch of the Galaxy 11 communications satellite
      |on an Ariane 44L.
      | Pegasus Launches ORBCOMM Satellites
      | An Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL booster
      |successfully launched seven ORBCOMM communications satellites Saturday
      |afternoon, December 4.
      | The Pegasus XL was launched from Orbital's L-1011 carrier
      |aircraft at 1:53 pm EST (1853 UT),flying over the Atlantic Ocean off
      |the coast from Wallops Island, Virginia. The seven ORBCOMM satellites
      |successfully separated from the booster about one hour after launch,
      |the company reported.
      | The ORBCOMM satellites joint the existing constellation of 28
      |ORBCOMM satellites in orbits 825 km (510 mi.) above the Earth,
      |providing global data communications. The new satellites, which will
      |enter service after a few months of on-orbit testing, are intended to
      |fill gaps in ORBCOMM's constellation.
      | The launch was only the third Pegasus launch of 1999, and the
      |first since a Pegasus XL launched the TERRIERS and MUBLCOM satellites
      |May 18. The only other Pegasus mission of the year was the launch of
      |the WIRE spacecraft in March.
      | SOHO Recovering from Safe Mode
      | The ESA-NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
      |spacecraft is recovering from two safe modes it encountered last week,
      |project officials reported Monday, December 6.
      | SOHO has been in an intermediate control mode call Coarse Roll
      |Pointing (CRP) since December 2, a day after the second safe mode in a
      |four-day period for the solar observatory. In CRP some of SOHO's
      |instruments can be used, although full operations will have to wait
      |until normal control of the spacecraft is restored.
      | SOHO is expected to stay in CRP until Wednesday, December 8.
      |Spacecraft engineers have been using this time do develop a patch for
      |the control software used by SOHO, fixing a bug that triggered the
      |second safe mode.
      | During a maneuver on December 1 to return the spacecraft to
      |normal operations after it entered an earlier safe mode November 28,
      |SOHO's star tracker apparently lost the magnitude 7.7 guide star it
      |was using to determine its position. The spacecraft automatically
      |went into CRP and stopped the maneuver.
      | However, while in CRP the spacecraft could not control the
      |rolling started during the maneuver. The rolling eventually deviated
      |to much from the expected value that SOHO's high-gain antenna was
      |unable to lock onto the Earth, triggering the Emergency Sun
      |Reacquisition (ESR) safe mode.
      | Engineers believe this was caused by a failure to reset a
      |pointer in the spacecraft's memory, causing other values in memory to
      |zero out. A software patch to correct this problem is being developed
      |and will be uplinked to SOHO on Wednesday, in advance of maneuvers to
      |recover the spacecraft to normal operations.
      | SOHO, which observes the Sun from the Earth-Sun L-1 point, 1.5
      |million km (900,000 mi.) from the Earth, is no stranger to problems.
      |In June 1998 series of problems, including controller error, send SOHO
      |tumbling. The spacecraft remained out of contact with the Earth until
      |August, and did not return to normal operations again until October,
      |after a long recovery operation. Two of the three gyroscopes on SOHO
      |failed to work after that incident.
      | In December 1998 the last working gyro on SOHO failed, putting
      |the spacecraft into another safe mode. New software that allows the
      |spacecraft to maintain its attitude without gyros was uploaded and the
      |spacecraft returned to operations in February. A more robust version
      |of the gyroless attitude control software was uploaded in October.
      | SOHO's primary mission ended in April 1998, but the spacecraft
      |is now in an extended mission to monitor the Sun through the peak of
      |its 11-year activity cycle that will last through 2003, if the
      |spacecraft remains healthy.
      | Some scientists are holding out for an even longer mission.
      |"What I would really like to see is the spacecraft carry out
      |observations for a full solar cycle of 11 years," said Bernhard Fleck,
      |ESA's SOHO project scientist, earlier this year.
      | Air Force Launch Delayed
      | The launch of several microspacecraft aboard a modified
      |Minuteman 2 rocket has been delayed at least two weeks, and perhaps
      |more than a month, because of an electrical problem, the Air Force
      |reported this week.
      | An Orbital Suborbital Program (OSP) rocket, dubbed a Minotaur,
      |was scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,
      |on December 7. However, during launch preparations an unspecified
      |electrical problem was discovered with the booster, forcing the launch
      | No new date has been set for the launch, although a delay of
      |at least two weeks is expected because of several other launches
      |scheduled to take place from Vandenberg in that time.
      | Sources with one of the satellites to be launched by the
      |booster, though, say the launch will likely be delayed until late
      |January, because the rocket will need to be destacked to make the
      |necessary repairs.
      | The Minotaur uses the lower stages of decommissioned Minuteman
      |2 ICBMs, combined with the upper stages of Orbital Science
      |Corporation's Pegasus XL booster. The booster can place up to 340 kg
      |(750 lbs.) into a 740-km (460-mi.) Sun-synchronous orbit, about 50
      |percent more than the Pegasus XL alone.
      | The first Minotaur launch will carry several microsatellites
      |within a payload adapter called JAWSAT, developed jointly by the U.S.
      |Air Force and Weber State University in Utah. Those satellites
      |include FalconSat, an experimental satellite built by the U.S. Air
      |Force Academy; ASUSat 1, built by students at Arizona State
      |University; the Optical Calibration Sphere Experiment, an inflatable
      |3.5-meter (11.5-foot) balloon built by L'Garde for the Air Force
      |Research Laboratory that will serve as a target for low-powered
      |groundbased lasers; and Opal, a Stanford University satellite that
      |will in turn deploy three smaller "picosatellites".
      | In addition to those satellites, JAWSAT includes two other
      |payloads that will remain attached to it after launch. The Plasma
      |Experiment Satellite Test (PEST), provided by NASA's Marshall Space
      |Flight Center, will study plasma -- tenuous electrically-charged gases
      |- found at orbital altitudes, while Weber State's Attitude Control
      |Platform will test a low-cost three-axis stabilization system.
      | When the launch does occur, it will be the first conducted
      |from the commercial California Spaceport at Vandenberg, operated by
      |Spaceport Systems International. SSI has contracts for this launch as
      |well as the second Minotaur launch, of the Air Force's MightSat II.1
      |satellite, planned for the spring of 2000.
      | SpaceViews Event Horizon
      |December 10 Ariane 5 launch of the European Space Agency's X-Ray
      | Multi-Mirror (XMM) observatory from Kourou, French
      | Guiana at 9:32 am EST (1432 UT).
      |December 11 Titan 2 launch of a Defense Meteorological Satellite
      | Program satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base,
      | California at 12:38 pm EST (1738 UT).
      |December 11 Launch of the shuttle Discovery on mission STS-103
      | (Hubble Servicing Mission 3A), from the Kennedy Space
      | Center, Florida at 11:42 pm EST (0442 UT December
      | 12).
      |December 16 Atlas 2AS aunch of the Terra Earth observing
      | spacecraft, from Vandenberg Air Force Base,
      | California at 1:33 pm EST (1833 UT).
      | Other News
      |A Commercial ISS Hab Module: The Office of Management and Budget
      |(OMB), in its "passbacks" on NASA's proposed fiscal year 2001 budget,
      |has reduced funding for the International Space Station (ISS) and
      |recommends NASA pursue a commercial option for the station's
      |habitation module, the NASA Watch Web site reported December 6. OMB
      |cut $174 million from NASA's requested amount for ISS and suggested
      |that NASA either "pursue commercial options" for a habitation module
      |for ISS, or delay or delete the module all together. NASA officials
      |had been looking to develop a partnership with companies to fund
      |TransHab, an inflatable module that would replace the planned hab
      |module, despite concerns by Congress on the effect TransHab would have
      |on the station's budget. "This places TransHab on the critical path
      |for ISS development," warns NASA Watch editor Keith Cowing. "Should
      |Dan Tam [head of NASA's commercialization efforts] not get a deal in
      |place this situation could backfire and the ISS would be stuck with
      |the ability to only house a 3 person crew."
      |Liberty Bell 7 Revisited: Inspections of the Liberty Bell 7 capsule,
      |retrieved from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean earlier this year,
      |have provided evidence for a new explanation about why the capsule
      |sank after Gus Grissom's 1961 suborbital flight. A buckled strip of
      |titanium next to the hatch, and a lack of burn marks, suggests that
      |explosive bolts did not mysteriously fire after splashdown, blowing
      |off the hatch and flooding the capsule with water. Greg "Buck"
      |Buckingham, head of the capsule's restoration team at the Kansas
      |Cosmosphere and Space Center, suggests that the force of landing could
      |have caused the bolts holding the hatch in place to pop out without
      |the need for pyrotechnics. Buckingham stressed to the Associated
      |Press, though, that further research is necessary to confirm this
      |Earthbound Missions: An international crew of four cosmonauts started
      |a 110-day mission December 3, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. The
      |mission won't take place on Mir, though, but in a Russian lab designed
      |to simulate living conditions in space. The four -- a Russian,
      |Austrian, Canadian, and Japanese -- will be monitored by scientists to
      |see how they interact with one another during the extended stay.
      |Meanwhile, the European Space Agency is seeking volunteers willing to
      |stay in bed for three straight months. The bed-rest tests are
      |designed to simulate some of the conditions of weightlessness, by
      |elevating the feet of the volunteers slightly above their head,
      |causing fluids to pool in their heads and chests, as happens in
      |weightlessness. Twenty-four volunteers, all male, will be sought for
      |the tests, the largest ever performed in Europe.
      |World Space Week: The United Nations General Assembly voted Monday,
      |December 6, to endorse a resolution creating a "World Space Week" that
      |will be celebrated each year from October 4-10. The dates were chosen
      |to commemorate the launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957, and the day
      |the Outer Space Treaty went into effect, October 10, 1967. Dennis
      |Stone, president of the Spaceweek International Association, said his
      |organization already plans to move the date of Space Week, previously
      |celebrated in March, to the October date of World Space Week. "We
      |call upon the global space community to support the UN by
      |participating in World Space Week," said Stone. "By celebrating Space
      |Week in a coordinated fashion, space organizations throughout the
      |world will attract media coverage that will greatly increase public
      |awareness of space." The same day the General Assembly approved World
      |Space Week, it also endorsed the conclusions reached by the UNISPACE
      |III conference in Austria in July, calling for greater global
      |cooperation in space.
      | This has been the December 8, 1999, issue of SpaceViews.
      |SpaceViews is also available on the World Wide web from the
      |SpaceViews home page:
      | http://www.spaceviews.com/
      |or via anonymous FTP from ftp.seds.org:
      | ftp://ftp.seds.org/pub/info/newsletters/spaceviews/text/19991208.txt
      |To unsubscribe from SpaceViews, send mail to:
      | majordomo@...
      |In the body (not subject) of the message, type:
      | unsubscribe spaceviews
      |For editorial questions and article submissions for SpaceViews,
      |including letters to the editor, contact the editor, Jeff Foust, at
      |For questions about the SpaceViews mailing list, please contact
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.