C4ISR

Damaged Air Force radar delays satellite launches

An Air Force radar network used to track rockets as they fly downrange from Cape Canaveral, Fla., will be out of commission through at least mid-April after the system was damaged by an electrical short.

The outage will delay for at least three weeks the launch of a classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite that was scheduled for liftoff on March 25 aboard an Atlas V rocket. NASA said firefighters responded to a fire at a radar tracking station at the Kennedy Space Center on March 24.

“An investigation revealed a tracking radar experienced an electrical short, overheating the unit and rendering it inoperable,” the Air Force's 45th Space Wing said in a statement.

Also delayed for at least three weeks is a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch that was scheduled for March 30.

The Air Force radar is used to track the flight path of rockets launched over the Atlantic Ocean. Range safety officers can send a destruct signal to destroy a rocket if it strays off course.

 


About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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