Encyclopedia Astronautica
MCO


American Mars orbiter. One launch, 1998.12.11, Mars Climate Orbiter. The Mars Climate Orbiter was to have accomplished mapping and weather studies of Mars and served as a relay for data from the Mars Polar Lander.

The Mars Climate Orbiter was the second flight of the Mars Surveyor Program. Primary propulsion was a 65 kgf Leros bipropellant engine. Mars Climate Orbiter was equipped with a MARCI color imager for mapping and weather studies; a PMIRR radiometer; and a UHF communications system which would also relay data from the Mars Polar Lander, scheduled for launch in January 1999. Mars Climate Orbiter was to enter a 160 km x 38600 km polar orbit around Mars on September 23,1999, and use aerobraking to reach a 373 km x 437 km x 92.9 degree sun-synchronous mapping orbit by November 23 1999. The science mission was to map the Martian surface at high resolution, and study the distribution of water vapor and ozone. It would study the transport of dust and water with latitude, the motions of weather systems and dust storms, and study the response to daily solar heating.

AKA: Mars Climate Orbiter.
Gross mass: 629 kg (1,386 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 338 kg (745 lb).
Thrust: 637 N (143 lbf).
First Launch: 1998.12.11.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Delta began as Thor, a crash December 1955 program to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile using existing components, which flew thirteen months after go-ahead. Fifteen months after that, a space launch version flew, using an existing upper stage. The addition of solid rocket boosters allowed the Thor core and Able/Delta upper stages to be stretched. Costs were kept down by using first and second-stage rocket engines surplus to the Apollo program in the 1970's. Continuous introduction of new 'existing' technology over the years resulted in an incredible evolution - the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit increasing from 68 kg in 1962 to 3810 kg by 2002. Delta survived innumerable attempts to kill the program and replace it with 'more rationale' alternatives. By 2008 nearly 1,000 boosters had flown over a fifty-year career, and cancellation was again announced. More...
  • Delta 7425-9.5 American orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 4 x GEM-40 + 1 x EELT Thor/RS-27A + 1 x Delta K + 1 x Star 48B with 2.9 m (9.5 foot) diameter fairing) More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • Martin American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Martin Marietta Astronautics Group (1956), Denver, CO, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Mars Surveyor A series of lower-cost missions devoted to the mapping of Mars from Mars orbit. Designed to accomplish at less cost the mission assigned to the failed Mars Observer. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, 1998 Mars Missions Launch Press Kit, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Mars Climate Orbiter Arrival Press Kit, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC17A Delta launch complex. Part of a dual launch pad complex built for the Thor ballistic missile program in 1956. Pad 17A supported Thor, Delta, and Delta II launches into the 21st Century. More...

MCO Chronology


1998 December 11 - . 18:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. Launch Pad: SLC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Delta 7425-9.5. LV Configuration: Delta 7425-9.5 D264.
  • Mars Climate Orbiter - . Mass: 629 kg (1,386 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: JPL. Manufacturer: Martin. Program: Mars Surveyor. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: MCO. Decay Date: 1999-09-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 25571 . COSPAR: 1998-073A. The Mars Climate Orbiter was the second flight of the Mars Surveyor Program. The probe was to enter a 160 km x 38600 km polar orbit around Mars on September 23,1999, and use aerobraking to reach a 373 km x 437 km x 92.9 degree sun-synchronous mapping orbit by November 23 1999. While the Mars Orbit Insertion burn began as planned on September 23, 1999 at 08:50 GMT, no signal was received after the spacecraft went behind the planet. Subsequent investigation showed that the spacecraft had plunged deep into the Martian atmosphere, with its closest approach to Mars being 57 km. It was concluded that the spacecraft burnt up in the atmosphere. It was later found that cutbacks in tracking, combined with incorrect values in a look-up table imbedded deep in the spacecraft software (use of pounds force instead of newtons) were to blame. This failure led to a shake-up of NASA's 'faster, better, cheaper' approach to unmanned spaceflight. Additional Details: here....

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