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Chandra Deployed!

July 23, 1999 ::

Columbia deploying Chandra
Artist's conception of Shuttle deploying Chandra
Photo: NASA
Chandra is flying free. At 8:45 a.m. today, NASA's premier X-ray observatory was gently pushed away from the Space Shuttle Columbia. As Chandra glided slowly through space, Columbia moved a safe distance away. An hour later, controllers at Onizuka Air Force Base gave the command to fire the first stage of the solid rocket motor on the Inertial Upper Stage booster. The rocket burned for just over two minutes then coasted for about two minutes be-fore the second stage of the Inertial Upper Stage fired for an additional two minutes.
"It was so beautiful that I wished we could hang on to it for a while,"
- Cady Coleman, Columbia Mission Specialist, commenting on the deployment of Chandra.
The observatory is now in a transitional I orbit that takes it more than thirty thousand miles above the Earth, with a closest approach of under 200 miles.

The successful firing of the Inertial Upper Stage was a major event in preparing Chandra for science operations

Over the next ten days, Chandra's own internal propulsion system will boost it to its final working orbit of approximately 6,214 by 86,992 miles in altitude.

One in a series of electronic still photos recorded by the crew during the deployment of the 50,162 pound observatory. More Deployment Photos. Or, view the video of deployment

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