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FWD: [UASR] Military Satellite Titan in Trouble

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  • Frits Westra
    Posted by : Ndunlks@aol.comMilitary Satellite Titan in Trouble.c The Associated PressBy MARCIA DUNNCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A military
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 1999
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      Posted by : Ndunlks@...

      Military Satellite Titan in Trouble

      .c The Associated Press

      By MARCIA DUNN

      CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A military communication satellite worth $800
      million ended up in the wrong orbit Friday, the third failure in a row for
      the Air Force's most powerful rocket.

      The three strikes for the Air Force's Titan IV rocket have cost taxpayers $3
      billion.

      Everything appeared to go well as the Titan IV lifted off early Friday
      afternoon, delayed 1 1/2 hours by minor technical problems and overnight
      thunderstorms.

      But seven hours later at a hastily convened news conference, Air Force
      officials said that the Defense Department's newest Milstar satellite was in
      a lopsided orbit thousands of miles below the intended 22,300-mile-high orbit.

      Officials said they will try to see if they can use onboard fuel and
      thrusters to boost the satellite into its intended orbit, but were unsure of
      their chances of success.

      Brig. Gen. Randy Starbuck, who is in charge of the Cape Canaveral Air
      Station, said it was too soon to speculate what went wrong. The first hint of
      trouble came about a half-hour into the flight, he said.

      ``When we have three failures in a row of any system ... something is not
      right,'' he told reporters.

      Because the Milstar program is partly classified, Air Force officials have
      to go through security reviews before releasing any information once the
      satellite was in orbit.

      An upper-stage Centaur rocket was supposed to boost the satellite into a
      22,300-mile-high orbit, where the first Milstar was placed in 1994 and the
      second in 1995. In all, six such satellites were planned to provide secure,
      jam-proof communication between U.S. military commanders and troops in the
      field.

      Air Force officials say that the mishap will not hamper the military's
      communications or the nation's security.

      A different type of upper-stage motor malfunctioned three weeks ago, leaving
      a missile-warning satellite in a useless orbit following its launch aboard a
      Titan IV. In August, one of the rockets and a spy satellite were destroyed in
      an explosion shortly after liftoff.

      Friday's mission alone cost $1.23 billion.

      The Milstar program was criticized by the General Accounting Office last
      fall as outdated and inefficient. The satellites were conceived during the
      Cold War and designed to withstand the radiation from a nuclear blast.

      The military is less worried about nuclear war and more worried about
      conflicts like the one in Yugoslavia, said Col. Mike Kelly, a deputy
      commander. But he said the satellites are still useful and have carried
      targeting information for cruise missiles.

      AP-NY-04-30-99 2021EDT

      Copyright 1998 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP
      news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise
      distributed without prior written authority of The Associated Press.
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