Mission Operations Awaiting Contact from CONTOUR Spacecraft August 15, 2002 -- 9:15 a.m. (EDT)

Status Report From: Johns Hopkins University
Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2002

August 15, 2002 -- 9:15 a.m. (EDT)

Mission operators are looking for a signal from CONTOUR, more than four hours after a scheduled maneuver to send the spacecraft from Earth's orbit onto a path to encounter multiple comets.

CONTOUR's STAR 30 solid-propellant rocket motor was programmed to ignite at 4:49 a.m. EDT and deliver 1,920 meter-per-second boost which CONTOUR needed to escape Earth's orbit. At about 140 miles (225 kilometers) above the Indian Ocean, the spacecraft was too low for NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) antennas to track it at the scheduled time of the burn.

The CONTOUR mission operations team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory expected to regain contact at approximately 5:35 a.m. EDT to confirm the burn, but by 9 a.m. EDT the DSN had not acquired a signal.

The mission operations team is working through several backup plans to establish contact with the spacecraft, searching along the predicted trajectories for a successful burn.

CONTOUR, a Discovery-class mission to explore the nucleus of comets, was built and managed by the John Hopkins Laboratory Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., for NASA.

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