Issue Date: March 14, 2011
Launch of Aerosol-Observing Satellite Fails
A NASA satellite, Glory (C&EN, Feb. 7, page 13), carrying instruments to monitor atmospheric aerosol particles and solar irradiance crashed shortly after it was launched on March 4. NASA believes that the protective clamshell-like fairing that covered the satellite at the nose of the launch rocket failed to separate from the assembly, leaving the satellite too heavy to reach orbit, NASA Launch Director Omar Baez Jr. said at a subdued press conference shortly after the incident. Glory, which cost $424 million, likely landed in the South Pacific Ocean. It is the second satellite in two years to fail to reach orbit because of fairing separation problems on a Taurus rocket made by Dulles, Va.-based firm Orbital Sciences. After the previous failure, the company redesigned the fairing separation system, which worked successfully on three Minotaur rockets last year, said Richard S. Straka, who oversees technical operations of Orbital’s launch systems group. NASA has created a panel to investigate the cause of the failure.
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