Milstar orbit

Allen Thomson (
Sat, 1 May 1999 08:17:40 -0500

Military Satellite in Wrong Orbit
Failure is Third Straight for Air Force's Titan IV Rocket
By William Harwood
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, May 1, 1999; Page A04

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., April 30A $433 million Air Force rocket
mysteriously misfired a half-hour after launch today, putting an $800
million military communications satellite into a useless orbit.

The towering 20-story Titan IV-B roared away from Pad 40 at 12:30 p.m.
today, 94 minutes late because of overnight storms that delayed processing.

The satellite was released from the Centaur upper stage 2 1/2 hours after
launch -- much earlier than expected -- in a lopsided orbit with a low point
of 460 statute miles and a high point of 3,105 miles.

Initial analysis of telemetry from the rocket indicated three Centaur rocket
firings did, in fact, occur, although not at the correct times and
presumably not for the correct durations, Starbuck said.

Flight controllers were able to issue commands to the satellite, but it is
not yet known whether anything can be done to salvage its mission. With only
850 pounds of on-board maneuvering fuel, it would not appear likely it could
be maneuvered into geosynchronous orbit.


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