Stellar Launch Record Unbroken

While the failed launch of NASA’s Glory satellite highlighted the complex risk involved in putting satellites in orbit, the Air Force has not lost a payload during a launch since a software glitch doomed a Milstar communications satellite back in April 1999. “We are at 75 and holding for successful national security space launches,” Air Force Space Command officials told the Daily Report Thursday in response to a written query. NSS launches include all AFSPC, Navy, Missile Defense Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Reconnaissance Office orbital missions, they said. Due to a shroud-separation failure, the Glory climate research satellite did not reach orbit during its March 4 launch aboard a Taurus XL rocket fired from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. (For background on the NASA launch, see Los Angeles Times report)