NASA - Latest Headache...$75 Million Satellite Damaged During Test...Folks are Mystified as to Cause : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Title: NASA Test Damages $75M Satellite


Story Filed: Friday, March 24, 2000 3:43 AM EST

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- In the latest headache for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a $75 million satellite was damaged when it was shaken 10 times harder than intended during tests.

At least two of the four panels on the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager will have to be replaced, delaying the launch from July until at least January. Tests were being planned Thursday to look for internal damage.

Engineers who ran the vibration test said they did not know why a shake table subjected the probe to 20 times the force of Earth's gravity, 10 times more than they had intended. It would experience about twice the force during a normal launch.

``The folks who were involved in the test are mystified at this point,'' said Larry Dumas, JPL's deputy director. ``There's no obvious reason that's presented itself.''

NASA will appoint a review board to investigate the mishap, just as it did twice last year after the agency and JPL lost the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander.

Investigators later found the orbiter mission failed because critical navigation units were not translated into metric. Polar Lander's review board is expected to make its findings public next week.

The 850-pound HESSI probe is designed to explore the basic physics of particle acceleration and the energy release of solar flares from an orbit of 360 miles above Earth. No estimate has been made on the cost of repairs.

Engineers were confident that the spacecraft can be saved, said Mark Hess, spokesman for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which is managing the mission.

``It continued to function even through the test,'' he said. ``We know there are structural and other elements of the satellite that are still working.''

The satellite was being tested at JPL because of the lab's proximity to Gilbert, Ariz.-based Spectrum Astro, where it was built, and the University of California, Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, where its primary science team is based.


On the Net: UC Berkeley's HESSI home page:

Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

Goddard Space Flight Center:

Copyright ) 2000 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.


-- (, March 24, 2000

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