NASA Assessing New Launch Dates for the Glory Mission

Preparations for the launch of NASA's Glory mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California have been suspended temporarily. Engineers continue to troubleshoot a malfunction in ground support equipment associated with the Taurus XL rocket.

On Feb. 23, a false indication was received about the rocket's status after commands were sent approximately 15 minutes before launch to activate the Taurus.

"We had an indication that a 'hold-fire' command was sent when indeed it had not," said Omar Baez, NASA launch director.

The commands originated from the Vehicle Interface Control Console in the mobile launch support van stationed a few miles from the launch pad. The problem has not yet been isolated, and troubleshooting continues. Managers are evaluating possible Glory launch opportunities in early to mid-March.

"The Glory spacecraft is doing fine," reported Bryan Fafaul, Glory project manager from NASA's Goddard Space Flight in Greenbelt, Md. "We are continuing to slow charge the battery until we have a new launch date."

Data from the Glory mission will allow scientists to better understand how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth's climate. Both aerosols and solar energy influence the planet's energy budget -- the amount of energy entering and exiting Earth's atmosphere. An accurate measurement of these impacts is important in order to anticipate future changes to our climate and how they may affect human life.

Project management for Glory is the responsibility of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is the launch service provider to Kennedy of the four-stage Taurus XL rocket and is also builder of the Glory satellite for Goddard.

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