CA - Update...Article Says Damaged Satellite Was Probably Caused by a Malfunction or Software Glitch : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Title: Lab That Damaged Satellite Defended

Story Filed: Friday, March 24, 2000 5:58 PM EST

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- An equipment malfunction or software glitch probably caused the mishap that cracked a satellite's solar panels during preflight testing, the mission's project manager said Friday.

The 850-pound spacecraft was undergoing a test Tuesday to ensure it could withstand launch when a vibration table at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory applied 10 times more force than was intended.

``The building shook, as opposed to something that was just shaking the spacecraft,'' said Peter Harvey, project manager of the $75 million High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager mission. ``Everybody knew something was wrong.''

It was the latest instance of bad luck for NASA and JPL, which last year failed in two high-profile missions to Mars. Investigators have criticized the agency and lab for poor training, lax management and other flaws.

But Harvey, who is based at the University of California, Berkeley, said the lab should not be blamed for the accident.

``This is not something that was human error -- it looks like the machine or software or something,'' he said. ``I think JPL is getting hammered here, and it's not fair. They're the best.''

Two of the sun-watching spacecraft's solar panels must be replaced; the cost of repairs has not been determined. The launch, originally scheduled for July, has been pushed back to at least January.

NASA was expected to quickly appoint a board to determine the cause of the accident.

The satellite was designed to study the physics of solar flares during its three-year mission.

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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