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Fourth Rocket Firing Delayed

August 2, 1999 ::

CXC in orbit - artist illustration
An artist's illustration of the Chandra spacecraft in orbit.
Illustration: TRW
NASA announced that the next scheduled firings of the Chandra Observatory's internal rocket engines has been postponed until Wednesday, August 4. The burn had been scheduled for Monday, August 2.

After a review of the performance data from Saturday's 21 minute burn, the flight operations team at the Chandra Operations Center in Cambridge, MA decided to use the redundant engines on the Integral Propulsion System.

Chandra orbit path
Artist's conception of Chandra's orbit path. View the orbit animations.
Illustration: NGST
Saturday's burn raised Chandra's orbit to a high point or apogee of 86,433 miles (139,100 kilometers). This is about 559 miles (900 kilometers) lower than the predicted 86,992 miles (140,000 kilometers). Chandra's current apogee is well within specifications, however.

According to NASA Program Manager Fred Wojtalik, "While the propulsion system performed within specifications and has delivered us to a completely acceptable apogee altitude, the performance of Chandra's engine number 3 was slightly below expectations. That is leading us to take a conservative approach and switch to the redundant system as a precaution."

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