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Weather satellite lost in launch accident

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Abstract

A $57.5-million weather satellite was lost on May 3, 1986, when the unmanned Delta rocket that carried it went out of control 71 s after liftoff and was destroyed by command from the ground. It was the third consecutive launching failure for the U.S. space program, following the losses of the space shuttle Challenger in January and an Air Force Titan rocket in April.

As Eos went to press, a team of officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its contractors were meeting at the Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral, Fla.) to review telemetry data from the launch. Two surges of current were found to have occurred in the electrical system of the rocket's main engine just prior to the engine's shutdown; it was this shutdown that caused the rocket to go out of control.