March 15, 2006
NASA scrubs Vandy satellite launches
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — NASA aborted the launch of three microsatellites Wednesday morning moments before they were to be fired into space aboard a rocket.
The 55-pound ST5 satellites, which were to test new technologies for future science missions, lifted off from Vandenberg aboard a Lockheed L-1011 jet around 6 a.m. When the plane reached an altitude of 39,000 feet, a compact Pegasus rocket was to detach from the aircraft’s belly and ferry the satellites on a 10-minute climb into space.
A technical glitch, however, caused NASA to scrub the rocket release just before it was to occur around 6:25 a.m., according to a broadcast on the space agency’s television station. The nature of the problem was not immediately made clear.
The L-1011 headed back to Vandenberg. NASA officials said the launch would be delayed for at least 48 hours.
The mission’s goal was to demonstrate the benefits of a group of small, low-cost satellites simultaneously measuring the earth’s magnetic fields from different locations.
The ST5 Project is part of NASA’s New Millennium Program, which was created to identify, build and test innovative technologies for use in future missions.