Thruster contamination on NOAA’s Jason-3 satellite forces delay
Wanting to ensure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA ) Jason-3 global sea surface-observing satellite was indeed ready for fight, mission planners have opted to push back its July 22, 2015 launch. With one of the four thrusters on the spacecraft found to be contaminated, the launch of a Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX ) Falcon 9 v1.1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California will have to wait a while longer. The mission will be delayed until an, as yet, undetermined time, with the intervening period used to allow engineers to have the time needed to correct the issue.
According to a report appearing on SatNews, the problem was discovered during spacecraft testing, where engineers found contamination in one of the spacecraft’s four thrusters. That thruster has since been replaced. Over the course of the next two weeks, an investigation will be held to determine where the contamination came from and the new thruster will be tested. After the outcome of the thruster’s review, a new launch date should be announced. For SpaceX, this mission marks the second time that the NewSpace firm has launched from its Space Launch Complex 4E facilities (the first being the CASSIOPE mission launched in September of 2013). Jason-3 will provide data regarding to hurricane intensity forecasting, El Niño and La Niña forecasting, as well as wave and coastal forecasting, and other information pertaining to oceanic conditions.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.