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For Release:
Jan. 14, 1999

Dave Drachlis
Media Relations Office
(256) 544-0034

Kathleen Lestition
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
(617) 495-7399


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Team Conducts Dry Run of Chandra X-ray Observatory Launch

While NASA's newest space telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, is being unveiled in a Southern California ceremony today, the team that will launch and operate it will be participating in a major simulation of liftoff and deployment from consoles in Northern California, Alabama, Texas and Massachusetts.

The simulation will allow the team to practice its communications and observatory operations procedures in preparation for the launch of Chandra aboard the Space Shuttle in April. This will be the second of five scheduled joint integrated simulations, and the first to involve the entire launch and operations team.

Controllers and managers from the Chandra prime contractor, TRW, in Redondo Beach, Calif.; NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.; and the Chandra Science Center, Cambridge, Mass. will participate from the observatory control center also in Cambridge, and the Huntsville Operations Support Center at Marshall. Additionally, Shuttle crew members and mission controllers will participate from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Inertial Upper Stage controllers will participate from Onizuka Air Force Station in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The groups will monitor data from many events. These events include a simulated launch, deployment from the Shuttle, and Inertial Upper Stage firings that will help boost the observatory to a higher orbit. The exercise will challenge controllers and managers by presenting a variety of situations and problems to test the teams ability to effectively and rapidly solve them

The Chandra X-ray Observatory, formerly called the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility, is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. Scientists believe its ability to see previously invisible black holes and high-temperature gas clouds give the observatory the potential to rewrite the books on the structure and evolution of our universe. The Marshall Center manages the Chandra observatory program for NASA.

Note to Editors / News Directors: For an electronic version of this release, digital images of simulation preparations, or more information, visit Marshall's News Center on the Web at: