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NATION / WORLD: AEROSPACE

Flight Software Blamed for Rocket Failure

October 20, 1998|Times Wire Services

Flight control software that mistakenly tried to correct a harmless rocking motion caused the failure of a Delta 3 rocket that exploded on its maiden launch Aug. 26, Boeing Co. said. Boeing said the software could be corrected easily in time to keep the program on schedule for a second flight in the first quarter of 1999. The Delta 3 rocket was carrying a $225-million PanAmSat communications satellite when the blast occurred. Seattle-based Boeing, the world's biggest aircraft maker, said the rocket's three engines rocked in unison after liftoff, destabilizing the satellite and sending it out of control before the explosion. The satellite's destruction cost Greenwich, Conn.-based PanAmSat about $200 million in revenue this year. PanAmSat had planned to lease the satellite to television and phone companies. Boeing shares rose $2.19 to close at $34.44 on the NYSE, and PanAmSat rose $3 to close at $33.13 on Nasdaq.

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