NASA Launches X-Ray Observatory

Associated Press

NASA’s X-Ray Timing Explorer was considered essential enough to be launched Saturday in spite of the federal government shutdown.

The $195-million satellite, the size of a small bus, is designed to study collapsed stars, possible black holes and other hot, compact objects in the universe for at least two years.

A Delta rocket carrying the satellite, the first new X-ray astronomy observatory since 1978, was launched at 8:48 a.m. EST after six attempts.


“We put in a lot of hard work after all the scrubs and to finally get the spacecraft into orbit is exhilarating,” said Lyle Holloway, launch site director for rocket maker McDonnell Douglas Corp.

The launch initially was scheduled for the end of August but was delayed by a rocket malfunction.

Other launch efforts were dogged by high wind and technical problems. And one attempt failed because a valve froze shut as a result of successive filling and draining of the rocket’s fuel tank.