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Magellan and Hubble.

Magellan and Hubble

Preliminary analysis indicates the Magellan spacecraft suffered only minor damage in an Oct. 17 electrical fire that occurred during tests at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Damage to the craft, scheduled to take off for Venus next April on the first U.S. interplanetary mission since the Pioneer Venus mission went there in 1978, necessitated changes to a wiring harness and some insulation material. NASA has appointed an investigating board to study the incident.

A battery burned in the fire was only a test unit, not the one planned for the flight itself. "We don't think it will affect anything on the mission," says NASA spokesman Charles Redmond. "We think we've got the problem itself understood."

On the other hand, a source close to the project told SCIENCE NEWS: "My main concern is not damage to the mission. It's the concern that the spacecraft is not being handled with the proper amount of care that's scary." He notes there is now only about three weeks' leeway to handle any additional postponements. Beyond that, Magellan could miss its launch window and face a delay of nearly two years.

On the positive side of NASA's space science plans, the agency this week advanced the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope to December 1989. Originally scheduled to fly in August 1986, it was delayed by the Challenger explosion until February 1990 (SN: 9/10/88, p.164). The new date, according to NASA, resulted from an exchange of shuttle payloads between already scheduled NASA and Defense Department flights.
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Title Annotation:electrical fire during test of Magellan spacecraft; Hubble Space Telescope to be launched in Dec., 1989
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 29, 1988
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