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LAUNCH DELAYED AFTER ROCKET FAILURE.

Byline: Staff and Wire Services

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE - The launch of a new science satellite will be delayed because it will use a rocket similar to one that veered off track and was destroyed during a weekend mission, NASA said.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was scheduled to launch from Florida its High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager, or HESSI, spacecraft Thursday aboard an Orbital Sciences Corp. Pegasus XL rocket.

However, NASA ordered a similar Pegasus rocket destroyed Saturday, seconds after it went into an uncontrolled tumble following its launch by a NASA Dryden Flight Research Center B-52 from Edwards Air Force Base.

Because of that, NASA has rescheduled the HESSI launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to on or about Tuesday.

NASA officials on Monday were putting together a board to investigate Saturday's rocket failure, which destroyed the pilotless, 12-foot-long X-43A that the agency hoped to fly at hypersonic speeds over the Pacific Ocean.

During the delay, engineers will seek to determine whether there are any related technical issues with the HESSI launch. NASA does not know what caused the failure.

``They're not even looking at the data yet. They're still getting all their information together,'' said NASA spokesman Chris Rink.

A NASA photograph released Monday shows the Pegasus and X-43A spiraling down toward impact in the Pacific. There were no injuries.

The $40 million HESSI spacecraft has already had one brush with destruction: It was damaged in March 2000 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during testing to simulate the shaking it would encounter during launch. The mission is designed to study the physics of solar flares.

Pegasus rockets are carried aloft by an aircraft and then dropped. Within seconds, they ignite their rocket motor and accelerate upward.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 6, 2001
Words:289
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