Spaceflight Now: Breaking News


December 21, 1999 -- Follow the launch of the Taurus rocket with Kompsat and Acrimsat satellites. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

0745 GMT (2:45 a.m. EST)

Now circling the Earth on their own, the Kompsat and Acrimsat satellites will be making first contacts with ground controllers over the next hour or so. Kompsat will undergo checkout and testing for the next two months before entering service. Acrimsat will need about 45 days to prepare its instrument for operations and complete satellite checkouts.

The next Taurus launch is tentatively scheduled for February 8 from Vandenberg.

This will conclude our live Taurus launch coverage for Kompsat and Acrimsat.

0738 GMT (2:38 a.m. EST)

CONFIRMATION OF ACRIMSAT SEPARATION! We have verified that NASA's Acrimsat satellite was released into space to complete this fourth flight of an Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket.

0733 GMT (2:33 a.m. EST)

We are standing by for word on Acrimsat. This is not a vehicle problem, this is a public relations glitch for Orbital.

0730 GMT (2:30 a.m. EST)

The broadcast from Vandenberg has started post-launch celebrations with the South Koreans. Information of the deployment of Acrimsat is not being provided to the world.

0728 GMT (2:28 a.m. EST)

About one minute away from deployment of Acrimsat to complete this morning's launch.

0727 GMT (2:27 a.m. EST)

The adapter between Kompsat and Acrimsat has been released.

0726 GMT (2:26 a.m. EST)

KOMPSAT SEPARATION! The Korea Multi-purpose Satellite has been released into space from the Taurus rocket's upper stage.

0725 GMT (2:25 a.m. EST)

T+plus 12 minutes. The fourth stage of Taurus has burned out, completing the powered flight this morning. Coming up on spacecraft separation for Kompsat and Acrimsat over the next four minutes.

0724 GMT (2:24 a.m. EST)

T+plus 11 minutes. Good telemetry reported from the Taurus rocket's upper stage. No problems to speak of.

0723 GMT (2:23 a.m. EST)

Fourth stage has ignited. Attitude reported nominal.

0723 GMT (2:23 a.m. EST)

Third and fourth stages have separated.

0722 GMT (2:22 a.m. EST)

Less than 90 seconds from third stage separation and fourth stage ignition.

0720 GMT (2:20 a.m. EST)

Vehicle is now in a ballistic coast period. Standing by for staging and fourth stage ignition in about three minutes.

0718 GMT (2:18 a.m. EST)

T+plus 5 minutes. The space shuttle Discovery astronauts have just reported they saw the launch from orbit!!

The third stage has burned out.

0717 GMT (2:17 a.m. EST)

Velocity and altitude reported normal.

0716 GMT (2:16 a.m. EST)

The payload fairing has separated. All systems reported nominal.

0716 GMT (2:16 a.m. EST)

Second stage burnout confirmed. Third stage is now burning.

0715 GMT (2:15 a.m. EST)

An infrared tracking camera atop the Santa Ynez peak is providing good views of the Taurus.

0714 GMT (2:14 a.m. EST)

First stage separation has occurred. Second stage ignition confirmed. Taurus continues its climb to polar orbit.

0714 GMT (2:14 a.m. EST)

No problems reported so far.

0713 GMT (2:13 a.m. EST)

T+plus 30 seconds. First stage burning as expected.

0713 GMT (2:13 a.m. EST)

Vehicle pitching to the proper position.

0713 GMT (2:13 a.m. EST)

LIFTOFF. Liftoff of the Taurus rocket launching a pair of research satellites for South Korea and NASA.

0712 GMT (2:12 a.m. EST)

Navigation accuracy of Taurus rocket's guidance system is go for launch.

0712 GMT (2:12 a.m. EST)

T-minus 1 minute and counting.

0711 GMT (2:11 a.m. EST)

T-minus 2 minutes. Auto sequence start.

0709 GMT (2:09 a.m. EST)

T-minus 4 minutes. The rocket's safe and arm devices have been armed. Also the Range has reported a "green" status for launch.

0708 GMT (2:08 a.m. EST)

The vehicle is armed.

0707 GMT (2:07 a.m. EST)

The launch team has been polled by the test conductor and all systems were reported "go" for liftoff of the Taurus rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

0706 GMT (2:06 a.m. EST)

T-minus 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The Western Range has a telemetry lock on the Taurus rocket.

0705 GMT (2:05 a.m. EST)

T-minus 8 minutes and counting. Both payloads have transferred to internal power. Also, the rocket's avionics are running on internal power.

0704 GMT (2:04 a.m. EST)

The Kompsat and Acrimsat spacecraft are now going to internal power.

0703 GMT (2:03 a.m. EST)

Audio has resumed. Interrogation of the C-band tracking beacon on the Taurus rocket has started and will continue through launch.

0658 GMT (1:58 a.m. EST)

Stick with us folks. The broadcast, which was to include the Orbital test conductor's communications loop, is showing Korean videos and animation for Kompsat. We expect to have English announcements to pass along during the final count and launch.

0647 GMT (1:47 a.m. EST)

The Taurus rocket's flight termination system is on internal power.

0645 GMT (1:45 a.m. EST)

Activities are proceeding along at Vandenberg for launch. The test conductor has just verified that the launch team is "go" to transfer the Taurus rocket's flight termination system to internal power. The FTS would be used to destroy the rocket should a mishap occur during flight.

0635 GMT (1:35 a.m. EST)

The countdown is continuing on schedule at Vandenberg Air Force Base for this morning's launch of a Taurus rocket. We are standing by for a status update from the Orbital Sciences test conductor.

2000 GMT (3 p.m. EST)

An Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket stands ready for launch early Tuesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket is loaded with a Korean remote sensing satellite and a sun energy measuring spacecraft for NASA. Liftoff is targeted to occur at 0715 GMT (2:15 a.m. EST), the desired launch time inside a window running from 0711 to 0724 GMT.

U.S. Air Force meteorologists say there is a 90 percent chance of acceptable weather conditions for launch. The forecast calls for a some scattered high-level clouds, a temperature of 49 degrees F, visibility of 7 to 10 miles and east-northeasterly winds 10 to 15 knots.

The primary payload on this fourth Taurus rocket is the Korean Aerospace Research Institute's Kompsat. The Korea Multi-purpose Satellite will be placed into polar orbit for ocean and Earth resources monitoring, map making and ionospheric studies. The satellite is based on a design by TRW.

The secondary passenger is NASA's Active Cavity Irradiance Monitor Satellite, or Acrimsat. This Jet Propulsion Laboratory mission will operate for five years to measure the total light energy from the sun.

A capsule containing cremated human remains is also attached to the Taurus rocket's upper stage for Houston-based Celestis, Inc.

The final countdown operation will begin four hours prior to liftoff. The four-stage rocket is solid-fueled, so the countdown is rather straightforward without any fueling work.

We will being our live updates on the countdown and launch at about 0630 GMT (1:30 a.m. EST). See our timeline of the launch.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Taurus
Payload: Kompsat and Acrimsat
Launch date: Dec. 21, 1999
Launch window: 0711-0724 GMT (0211-0224 EST)
Launch site: Area 576-E, Vandenberg AFB, California

Pre-launch briefing
Learn more about the mission.

Taurus - description of Orbital Sciences' Taurus rocket.

Launch timeline - chart of events to occur during launch with brief description.

Ground track - map of the track Taurus will follow for launch.

Kompsat - overview of Korean Kompsat spacecraft and its objectives.

Acrimsat - overview of NASA's Acrimsat satellite and its scientific mission.

Explore the Net
Orbital Sciences Corp. - Maker of Taurus rocket and company conducting this commercial launch.

Kompsat - Korean Aerospace Research Institute's Korea Multi-purpose Satellite.

Acrimsat - NASA satellite to measure the sun's energy.

Celestis Inc. - Company that launches created human remains into space on rockets.

Vandenberg Air Force Base - California launch site where the Taurus mission will begin.

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