Taurus Rocket with Glory
Image Credit: NASA

The Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket was set to launch the Glory satellite early Wednesday morning, at 3:09 AM Phoenix time (1009 UTC), but the countdown was stopped several minutes before launch because of an issue with a control console that was providing erroneous readings that controllers were not able to understand and resolve in time for the launch. The launch is being rescheduled for the same time on Thursday, pending a resolution of the problem. And it now looks like 3 March is the next launch date.

The mission fields two devices: the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) measures variations in the sun’s Total Solar Irradiance (TSI), which is the amount of solar energy hitting the top of the Earth’s atmosphere, and the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS), which measures particles and droplets in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Taurus rocket is set to make its first flight since its failure to deploy the Orbiting Carbon Observatory in 2009.

The launch will take place from Launch Complex 576E at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The spacecraft’s final polar orbit will be 438 nautical miles (508 miles) at an inclination of 98.2 degrees.

In addition to Glory, the Taurus will deploy three CubeSats.

KySat-1 was produced by Kentucky Space, and is intended for use as part of an outreach programme towards schoolchildren, who will be allowed to upload and download files to and from the spacecraft, and to operate its camera. It is a single-unit CubeSat; measuring ten centimetres by ten centimetres by ten centimetres, and is expected to operate for between 18 and 24 months.

Hermes is also a single-unit CubeSat. Funded by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium and operated by the University of Colorado at Boulder, it is designed to demonstrate systems to allow CubeSats to transmit data to Earth at higher rates. It will also be used to conduct research for future CubeSat missions, and to study the environment in which it operates. It carries instruments to monitor its temperature, and the magnetic field to which it is exposed.

Explorer-1 [Prime] is essentially a reflight of the Explorer 1 satellite’s radiation experiment using modern technology. The original Explorer 1, the first American satellite, was launched in 1958. Its radiation payload was instrumental in the discovery of the Van Allen belts. Explorer-1 [Prime] is based on the Electra CubeSat bus, developed by the University of Montana, and is a replacement for the MEROPE satellite which was lost in the July 2006 Dnepr-1 launch failure.


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