Too many eggs in one basket

日期:2018-01-24 07:42:48 作者:牧抨椹 阅读:

By Kurt Kleiner AN ATTEMPT to launch a record number of satellites on a single rocket has turned into a record-breaking disaster. Twelve satellites belonging to the telecommunications firm Globalstar, based in San Jose, California, lifted off on 9 September on a Ukrainian-built Zenit 2 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. But four and a half minutes into the flight the second stage shut down prematurely and the rocket was destroyed. The satellites were to have been part of a 64-satellite system providing a global mobile phone service. Despite the failure, Globalstar says it will have in place the minimum of 32 satellites it needs to begin service by 1999. Planned launches using Russian Soyuz rockets, which can carry four of the satellites, will be brought forward. Some experts in launch systems were surprised that Globalstar placed so much faith in the Zenit rocket, given its record of seven failures out of 30 launches since 1985, prior to last week’s mishap. “I can see launching 12 satellites on the shuttle, or even the Russian Proton,” says Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who operates a website detailing the performance of different rockets. “But on the Zenit, I think that was a mistake.” Globalstar says it will defer a decision on whether to use the Zenit again until the results of an investigation into the failure, which may take six months. The company’s main rival, the Iridium consortium based in Washington DC, has also announced a minor setback. Its global service, which had been scheduled to start on 23 September,