Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

NEAR rendezvous burn delayed
Posted: Feb. 2, 2000

The NEAR spacecraft went into a "safe" hold this morning while preparing for today's scheduled rendezvous burn. The NEAR team will attempt the maneuver tomorrow and the mission remains on schedule for the Valentine's Day encounter with asteroid Eros.

The rendezvous burn is a braking maneuver designed to slow NEAR's speed relative to Eros (from 45 mph to 21 mph) and refine its trajectory toward the asteroid. The spacecraft's onboard computer initiated the safe mode at 5 a.m. EST during a routine procedure that precedes a change in NEAR's velocity. Mission operators stayed in constant touch with NEAR and the spacecraft appears healthy, though the NEAR team is looking into potential causes of the problem.

Built and managed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, NEAR was the first spacecraft launched in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, small-scale planetary missions.

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