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Next ST5 Launch Attempt Set For Wednesday

NASA's ST5 mission is designed to demonstrate the viability of micro-sats, which could be deployed to study phenomenon such as Earth's magnetic field and the effect of solar substorms. Mission designers think ST5 could help improve the accuracy of space weather forecasting, which would aid preparations for disruptions to power, communications and navigation systems. Image credit: NASA
by Staff Writers
Vandenberg AFB CA (SPX) Mar 21, 2006
NASA said Tuesday it will make a fourth attempt to launch its Space Technology 5 spacecraft aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket on Wednesday morning, March 22.

Mission controllers said the weather forecast for Wednesday at Vandenberg is generally favorable, with an 80 percent chance conditions will be appropriate for launch.

Technicians have reviewed the data from the ST5 spacecraft's separation system and determined it will now function as designed, NASA said in a statement. The launch originally was scheduled for March 11, but was postponed twice because of weather.

On March 15, on the third attempt, controllers scrubbed the launch at 6:27 a.m. Pacific Time, just before the Pegasus rocket carrying its payload of three micro-satellites was due to drop from its Orbital Sciences L-1011 lifting aircraft, which was flying over the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. Controllers called an abort because they could not release the steering lock pin on the Pegasus, and the batteries that power the operation went dead after 45 seconds � their design lifetime. The pilot of the Lockheed lifting aircraft tried rocking the wings to shake the pin loose, but to no avail.

The launch window on March 22 runs from 5:57:31 a.m. Pacific Time to 7:19:50 a.m., and the targeted drop time is 6:02 a.m. PT.

Part of a series of space-technology-demonstration spacecraft commissioned by NASA's New Millennium Program, the ST5 mission will place three micro-satellites into different low Earth orbits. Each satellite will map the intensity and direction of the magnetic fields within the planet's inner magnetosphere. Scientists hope to study this region to learn more about how solar flares and other space weather can disrupt global communication, navigation and power systems.

Managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the mission is scheduled to operate in space for at least 90 days.

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Washington Touts US-Russian Satellite Launch Cooperation
Washington (AFP) Mar 22, 2006
The US State Department on Tuesday hailed US-Russian cooperation on the Sea Launch project in which US and foreign satellites are launched from international waters in the Pacific Ocean.

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