22 April 2011

Friday, 22 April 2011: KLC Launch Delayed by California Mishap

(Note the number of days since the last launch in the timer to your right;  over 5 months since the last launch.)
  Jacob Resneck/KMXTThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
            A spectacular mishap in which a $424 million NASA research satellite was lost in the Pacific has caused the launch of a military satellite from the Kodiak Launch Complex to be delayed for several months.
             The U.S. Air Force had initially announced it would launch a Minotaur IV rocket in May. But now an Air Force spokesman says the launch won't be until mid-summer or early fall. The spokesman asked not to be named.
            The cause of the delay can be traced to a malfunction of a similar rocket last month. An apparent malfunction of a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California destroyed NASA's Glory mission, a climate research satellite that had been mounted on a Taurus XL rocket.
            Spaceflight Now reported this week that the Glory mission had failed to separate properly in mid-flight and the payload was lost in the Pacific Ocean.
            While of a different design, the Taurus XL shares some of the same components as the Minotaur IV causing the Air Force to ground the mission as a precaution.
            The Minotaur IV is based on the Peacemaker ICBM missile and is the same type of rocket that successfully launched from Kodiak's Narrow Cape last November.
            The Air Force says the "exact nature of the problem" that occurred is still unknown and it's still awaiting the facts before committing to a launch date in Kodiak.
            The Air Force added that the military satellite is the only mission currently booked for the Kodiak Launch Complex which is owned by the state-owned Alaska Aerospace Corporation.

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