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Shuttle Discovery Crew Places Telescope Satellite Into Orbit

September 14, 1993| Associated Press

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Space shuttle Discovery's astronauts successfully pitched an ultraviolet telescope into orbit Monday after a delay caused by yet another communications problem.

It was the crew's second satellite release in two days.

Astronaut Daniel Bursch could not release the telescope from the end of Discovery's 50-foot robot arm until ground controllers finished sending commands. The controllers got behind because of communications interruptions caused by radio interference, and Mission Control delayed release 1 1/2 hours, or one orbit. Flight Director Bob Castle said a lightning strike near Mission Control in Houston added to the data-relay problem.

Sunday's release of an experimental communications satellite also had been delayed by one orbit. For nearly an hour, Mission Control could not contact Discovery because of interference from the payload radio system.

NASA spokesman Kyle Herring said the two problems were unrelated.

Once the telescope satellite was free, Frank Culbertson Jr., the shuttle commander, carefully backed Discovery away. The 3 1/2-ton satellite--an ultraviolet telescope and spectrograph mounted on a platform--is to trail 35 miles behind the shuttle for about a week before being retrieved for the trip home Sept. 22.

The telescope and spectrograph are to focus on cold interstellar clouds that might be breeding new stars as well as the scorching atmospheres of stars.

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