"Stuff" Happens --- A little OT, but why "Little Things Mean A Lot"greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
One of the major arguments against Y2K is that "Yes, ther may be glitches --- but they won't really mess up the system."
Tell it to the Air Force:
03:45 AM ET 05/01/99
Another Air Force Satellite Fails
Another Air Force Satellite Fails By MARCIA DUNN= AP Aerospace Writer= CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ A military communication satellite was stuck in an orbit thousands of miles too low today following the third failed mission in a row for the Air Force's premier rocket. The fiascoes have cost taxpayers $3 billion. ``When we have three failures in a row of any system ... something is not right,'' said Brig. Gen. Randy Starbuck, who is in charge of Cape Canaveral Air Station. The $800 million Milstar satellite never made it to its intended 22,300-mile-high perch Friday. Instead, it circled Earth in a lonely, lopsided orbit that reached no more than 3,100 miles high. Air Force officials said they're not sure what went wrong. The preliminary indication was that the Titan IV rocket did its job during the first several minutes of the launch, but that the upper stage needed to propel the satellite higher did not fire properly. ``Quite frankly, we do not know and we're not going to speculate,'' Starbuck said Friday night. Air Force controllers will try to boost the satellite using on-board fuel and thrusters. A different type of upper-stage motor malfunctioned three weeks ago, leaving a missile-warning satellite in a useless orbit following its launch aboard a Titan IV. And last August, a Titan IV rocket and the spy satellite on board were destroyed in a midair explosion less than a minute into the flight. Starbuck said there appears to be no similarities among the three failures. ``But we will continue to look for those and if there is one, we'll find that,'' he said. The Air Force will not launch any rockets until the problem is understood, Starbuck said. Boeing already has delayed the launch of its new Delta III rocket from Sunday to Tuesday _ or possibly later _ so engineers can make sure there are no links with the latest Titan IV trouble. It's been decades since the same kind of rocket failed three times in a row. The Titan IV, the nation's most powerful unmanned rocket, has been flying since 1989. The Defense Department's newest Milstar satellite was to have joined two less sophisticated Milstars already in orbit. In all, the Air Force planned six such satellites to provide secure, jam-proof communication between U.S. military commanders and troops in the field. Air Force officials stressed that Friday's mishap will not hamper military communication or national security. The Milstar program was criticized by the General Accounting Office last fall as outdated and inefficient. The satellites were conceived during the Cold War and designed to withstand the radiation from a nuclear blast. Lockheed Martin Corp. built the satellite as well as the Titan IV rock
-- Jon Johnson (email@example.com), May 03, 1999