NASA's DC-8 flying science laboratory lifts off Runway 25 at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., during a science instrument checkout flight. (NASA photo / Tony Landis)
NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory, operated by the Dryden Flight Research Center, provided telemetry relay support for the abortive Glory satellite launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coastline early Friday morning, March 4.
Unfortunately, the spacecraft failed to reach orbit after its launch when telemetry indicated a fairing, a protective shell over the satellite atop the satellite's Taurus XL rocket, did not separate as expected. The fairing failure occurred during the second stage engine burn. It is likely the spacecraft fell into the South Pacific, although the exact location is not yet known.
DC-8 mission manager Frank Cutler's flight report indicated that signals from vehicle were acquired about four minutes after launch and then tracked for about 14 minutes with a telemetry instrumentation suite built by Ktech Corp. of Albuquerque, N.M. that had been installed on the aircraft. Acquired data was recorded onboard and then streamed in near real-time over an INMARSAT SatCom link to Vandenberg AFB and Kennedy Space Center.
The DC-8 was aloft for about 8 ½ hours on the mission and tracked the Taurus XL rocket from a position about 440 nautical miles east of the ascent path.
NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory, based at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., is a former commercial airliner that has flown NASA science missions for more than 25 years. It has carried scientists for research missions on six continents.
The Glory Earth-observing satellite was intended to improve our understanding of how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth's climate.
For more information about the Glory mission, see: http://glory.gsfc.nasa.gov/