UPDATE - Sotware Glitch, Fishing Contest Delay Rocket Launch

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Note: Update to post by Martin Thompson, http://greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=003C8B


Technical Glitch, Fishing Contest Delay Rocket Launch

Story Filed: Saturday, May 20, 2000 9:10 PM EST

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The inaugural flight of a new commercial satellite launcher was aborted by a last-minute software glitch after a countdown held up for several hours by boats from a charity fishing contest.

Liftoff of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3 rocket was called off with less than two and a half minutes on the countdown clock. It was the fourth postponement for the new rocket's satellite delivery mission. The previous delays were due to weather and software problems.

Dozens of boats from a celebrity charity fishing contest had to be chased out of the launch danger area off Cape Canaveral before the countdown could proceed.

Liftoff was held up for more than two hours while a Coast Guard cutter and two Air Force helicopters cleared the area. When a software glitch struck the countdown in its final minutes there was no time left to resolve the problem before the close of Saturday's launch window.

The U.S. Air Force, which handles safety at the launch site, said the organizers of the fishing event had been warned of the impending liftoff and were told to keep boats clear of the area to avoid the danger from falling debris in the event of a launch accident.

Lockheed Martin said it would reschedule the launch for Sunday at 5:38 p.m. EDT.

The Atlas 3, which will carry into orbit a European communications satellite, is the latest in a long line of rockets that started life in the 1950s as intercontinental ballistic missiles pointed at Russia.

With the end of the Cold War, Lockheed Martin has turned to a Russian rocket engine manufacturer to boost the latest

Atlas rockets. The same Russian company once built engines that powered Soviet missiles aimed at the West.



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 21, 2000

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