NASA Weighs Options for Recovering Lost Glory

by

NASA does not expect to fly an exact copy of its Glory climate observation satellite lost in a March 4 launch attempt, according to an agency official.

“We’re certainly not going to do a carbon reflight of Glory, and that’s largely owing to the fact that the Glory [spacecraft] bus was a repurposed bus to begin with and it is largely obsolete at this point,” Charles Gay, NASA deputy associate administrator for science, said at the Goddard Memorial Symposium in Greenbelt, Md., March 30.

The $424 million satellite was destroyed when the protective shroud on its Taurus XL rocket failed to separate. Both the rocket and the satellite were built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.

Glory, which used a spacecraft platform originally built for the long-canceled Vegetation Canopy Lidar mission, was designed to operate in polar orbit to monitor aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere and continue NASA’s uninterrupted 30-year history of observing solar energy output. It carried the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS), built by Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems of El Segundo, Calif., and the Total Irradiance Monitor, built by the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.

Gay said NASA is currently assessing options for recovering the science opportunities lost when Glory failed to reach orbit.

“We’re looking at the impact of the loss of the Glory mission measurements and looking at that in the context of what we have flying now, what we have flying in the near-term and to identify where the gaps are,” he said. “Also in parallel we’re looking at what would be the kind of instrument that would be needed to best fill that gap. Is it a reflight of the APS instrument, is it a different instrument given the technology we have today?”

Ultimately, Gay said, if there is a gap in mission needs, NASA will assess options for filling it.

“Is it a free-flier or is it an instrument we could put on another spacecraft to get some synergy on an upcoming mission we already have planned for flight?” he said, adding that NASA could benefit from cost savings in the latter case.

Gay said NASA will spend the coming months costing options and building them into its 2013 budget request.

“We’ll be doing that over the next several months and will factor that into our budget development process,” he said.

RELATED ARTICLE

NASA Names Taurus Launch Failure Board