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Ikonos Satellite Falls into Pacific

Photonics Spectra
Jun 1999
Investigators from Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space in Sunnyvale, Calif., have determined what went wrong with the launch of the Ikonos 1 satellite April 27 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. They said the payload fairing -- designed to protect the payload from atmospheric friction during the initial launch phase -- failed to separate from the spacecraft. The rocket was not strong enough to lift the additional 500 kg into orbit, causing the satellite to fall into the south Pacific Ocean.

Lockheed Martin, along with Space Imaging Inc. in Thornton, Colo., may launch the backup satellite Ikonos 2 by the end of the year. Like its predecessor, it would offer 1-m resolution for commercial applications.

"The market has been waiting for 1-m imagery for a long time," said John Copple, CEO of Space Imaging. "We don't expect it to disappear if we have to wait a few more months."

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