NASA Names Taurus Launch Failure Board

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NASA said March 9 it had selected the members of the board that will investigate the Taurus XL launch failure that destroyed the agency’s Glory climate observing satellite.

Glory launched March 4 from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, but telemetry data indicated that the rocket and satellite fell into the Pacific Ocean after the Taurus XL’s protective payload shroud failed to separate, making the vehicle too heavy to reach orbit. A fairing separation problem was blamed in the February 2009 Taurus XL mishap that sent NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) satellite into the ocean. Glory’s launch was the first Taurus XL mission since the OCO failure.

The Taurus rockets and both satellites were built by Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp.

The investigation of the March 4 failure will be led by Bradley Flick, director of the research and engineering directorate at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The other members of the mishap investigation board are LeRoy Cain, NASA’s deputy manager of the space shuttle program; Daniel Dorney, a NASA Marshall Space Flight Center engineer; Todd Hinkel, pyrotechnics group lead at NASA Johnson Space Center; Stacey Nakamura, chairman of Johnson’s Safety and Engineering Review Panel; Air Force Capt. Benjamin Califf, deputy chief of space launch at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; and Barbara Kanki, a research psychologist at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.