Launchlog '87: inching back into space.Launchlog '87: Inching back into space
At the beginning of 1986, NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. announcedplans for the year to include the most ambitious launch schedule in its history--as many as 25 missions, including 10 by space shuttle and 15 by "expendable launch vehicles' (ELVs). The first, by the shuttlecraft shut·tle·craft
A reusable space vehicle for transporting astronauts or material back and forth; a space shuttle. Columbia, was a success. Then Challenger exploded. On the next attempt, an "old reliable' ELV ELV End-of-Life Vehicles
ELV Expendable Launch Vehicle
ELV Extra Low Voltage
ELV Emission Limit Value (environmental protection)
ELV Elektronisches Lastschrift Verfahren (German method of payment) called a Delta had to be destroyed from the ground when its main engine shut off prematurely (and that was only two weeks after an Air Force Delta ELV had blown up in mid-ascent). NASA conducted only three more launchings in 1986, all will ELVs, and all of them worked.
This year, the agency plans ony sixlaunchings, the number it actually ended up with out of last year's scheduled 25, and fewer than it had previously attempted since 1958, when NASA was born. None of the six payloads, furthermore, will be NASA's own. Four are military, one a weather satellite for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Noun 1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - an agency in the Department of Commerce that maps the oceans and conserves their living resources; predicts changes to the earth's environment; provides weather reports and forecasts floods and hurricanes and (NOAA NOAA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Noun 1. NOAA - an agency in the Department of Commerce that maps the oceans and conserves their living resources; predicts changes to the earth's environment; ) and the other a communications sattellite for the government of Indonesia.
The first of the lot, scheduled to be sentup on Feb. 19, will be NOAA's GOES-H, which will be renamed GOES-East (after it is successfully launched) and stationed over the Atlantic Ocean. When that happens, the single GOES now aloft will be shifted to the Pacific region as GOES-West.
GOES-H will be launched by a Deltarocket, similar to the one that had to be destroyed last May 3 and in the process destroyed its payload, GOES-G. Confirmation that Deltas are ready to fly again comes from the fact that, four months after the GOES-G debacle, another Delta took off and successfully deployed a target for a test of the Defense Department's Strategic Defense Initiative Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), U.S. government program responsible for research and development of a space-based system to defend the nation from attack by strategic ballistic missiles (see guided missile). (SDI) program.
NASA's second 1987 launching is scheduledfor Feb. 26, only a week after the first. This time an Atlas-Centaur rocket, which had no 1986 mishap, will carry the latest addition to the U.S. Navy's Fleet Satellite Communications series, FLTSATCOM FLTSATCOM Fleet Satellite Communications F-6. To be used not only by the Navy but also by the Air Force and other Defense Department customers, it will be part of a program to have three second-generation FLTSATCOMs working in orbit at the same time.
The next launching is set for one monthlater, on March 19, this time with another Delta rocket, carrying Indonesia's Palapa pa·la·pa
1. An open-sided dwelling with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves.
2. A structure, such as a bar or restaurant in a tropical resort, that is open-sided and thatched with palm leaves. B2-P communications satellite.
Then comes FLTSATCOM F-8, at presentlisted for May 21, again riding atop an Atlas-Centaur rocket.
The other kind of NASA rocket that successfullyput a payload in orbit last year was the smaller Scout, which on that occasion carried a satellite named Polar BEAR, for Polar Beacon Experiment and Auroral Research (SN: 12/6/86, p.361). This year's Scout will carry a pair of satellites together known as SOOS-2, for Stacked Oscars on Scout. Not to be confused with the OSCAR (Open System for CommunicAtion in Realtime) AOL's internal project name for AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). The core functions of OSCAR, known as the Basic OSCAR Services (BOS), include Login/Logoff, Locate (find out about other AIM users), Instant Message amateur-radio satellites (though some NASA officials have been known to make that mistake), SOOS-2 is a brace of navigation satellites for the Navy, of which a previous stack was launched in August 1985. Scheduled for September, it will also be NASA's only 1987 launching from the West Coast, using Vandenberg Air Force Base Vandenberg Air Force Base, U.S. military installation, 3,456 acres (1,399 hectares), SW Calif., near Lompoc; chief Pacific coast launch site for military satellites. in California instead of Florida's Cape Canaveral.
The sixth and last NASA launch of theyear is to be another test in the SDI program, and again lofted by a Delta. This will be the second of four planned Delta launches in this series.
NASA has not yet announced its scheduleof ELV launches for 1988, but drawing more attention than any of them is expected to be the return to flight of the space shuttle. The agency's target date is Feb. 18, 1988, but officials stoutly maintain that the shuttle will not fly until its safety is assured, and it is not yet clear whether that date will turn out to have been overly optimistic.