The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has delayed defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s booster rocket test launch until January, citing an electronic “fault” (see GSN, Dec. 15).
Lockheed is developing one of two booster-rocket candidates for the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense program but the effort has been plagued by accidents and technical difficulties. The test was originally set for Monday and was then rescheduled for Thursday after the problem was initially discovered.
Orbital Sciences is developing the other booster, which was tested earlier this year. The Pentagon will use Orbital’s booster for the initial deployment of the missile defense system.
The Lockheed test launch was delayed because of an “extremely minor” problem in a circuit board in a module on top of the booster’s third stage motor, a Pentagon spokesman said yesterday. The test, Booster Verification-5, is expected to take place next month after technicians replace the faulty equipment.
“They change out things all the time,” the spokesman said. “The only difference (this time) is that it was close to the launch date,” he added (Marc Selinger, Aerospace Daily, Dec. 17).