NASA nixes Centaur launches from shuttle



James C. Fletcher, the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on June 19, 1986, that because of safety considerations, the space shuttle will not be used to launch the Centaur Upper Stage. The Ulysses and Galileo missions, which were originally to have been launched in May 1986, would have been launched from the shuttle with the Centaur rocket (Eos, November 19, 1985, p. 1183; February 4, 1986, p. 57). The Galileo craft is to explore Jupiter; Ulysses is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA that is to orbit the sun around its poles, outside of the “ecliptic plane” where the planets lie. The decision seems likely to delay further the two missions, which were already delayed by the suspension of shuttle launches after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986.