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Contact lost with CONTOUR spacecraft
Posted: Thu, Aug 15, 2002, 10:42 AM ET (1442 GMT)
CONTOUR spacecraft illustration (NASA/JHUAPL) CONTOUR project officials said Thursday morning that they have lost contact with the spacecraft hours after it was scheduled to perform a critical maneuver. CONTOUR was scheduled to fire its main engine at 4:49 am EDT (0849 GMT) to boost the spacecraft out of Earth orbit. Radio communication with the spacecraft was to be restored by 5:35 am EDT (0935 GMT), three and a half hours later spacecraft controllers had yet to establish contact. "The mission operations team is working through several backup plans to establish contact with the spacecraft, searching along the predicted trajectories for a successful burn," project officials said in a statement. CONTOUR (Comet Nucleus Tour) is a Discovery-class NASA spacecraft designed to fly by the nuclei of at least two comets. The spacecraft was launched on a Delta 2 in early July and placed in an elliptical phasing orbit around the Earth to put it in position to leave orbit on a trajectory towards comet Encke.
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