David E.

Steitz Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1730)

November 7, 1996

Jim Sahli Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: 301/286-0697) RELEASE: 96-231 SAC-B/HETE SPACECRAFT NO LONGER OPERATIONAL Spacecraft managers at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, believe that the SAC-B (Scientific Applications Satellite-B) spacecraft is no longer operating due to the loss of onboard battery power. Project officials said the spacecraft battery lost power early on Tuesday, Nov. 5. None of the five SAC-B instruments have been operating since the battery failure. HETE (High Energy Transient Experiment) project officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirmed that because the HETE spacecraft was not separated from the Pegasus XL third stage, HETE was not able to deploy its solar arrays. HETE is designed to remain dormant until the solar arrays detect sunlight, an event unlikely to occur since HETE remains sealed in the interior of a dual payload support structure. Officials said the SAC-B solar arrays did not deploy automatically after launch since the Pegasus XL third stage remained attached to the spacecraft. The solar arrays were deployed by commands issued during the spacecraft's first pass over the Wallops Operational Tracking Station, Wallops Island, VA, on Monday, Nov. 4. Ground tracking after launch showed the spacecraft tumbling. Due to the tumbling, combined with the shadowing of the Pegasus XL third stage, the SAC- B solar arrays were not able to generate enough power to keep the satellite's batteries charged. By early Nov. 5 morning during a spacecraft pass over the Wallops station, there were no signals detected from SACB. The SAC-B attitude control system had been turned on in an attempt to stabilize the spacecraft, but with the additional mass of the Pegasus XL third stage, the batteries

were discharged before control could be established. Although there is the possibility that SAC-B could be reactivated if the current tumbling of the spacecraft were to stop, that possibility is considered remote by NASA managers. HETE officials said that the spacecraft was powered on after launch because of a previously programmed timer. Signals were able to penetrate the Pegasus canister and were detected during a pass at 7 a.m. on Nov. 5 by a NOAA satellite receiving station at Wallops. In a subsequent pass, signals were present but weak. Project officials said on the next pass, no signals were detected. Managers said that spacecraft batteries were probably depleted at that time. The Pegasus launch occurred Nov. 4 at approximately 12:09 p.m. EST offshore from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA. The Pegasus vehicle achieved the desired orbit of 265 nautical miles by 297 nautical miles at an inclination of 38 degrees. Analysis of the launch shows that the Orbital Sciences Corporation's Pegasus XL third stage failed to separate from the satellites. -end-