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NASA And Austrialian Scientists Recover Star Study Rocket, Launch Balloon

November 19, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. and Australian scientists, working together to study an exploding star, recovered an X-ray detection rocket after a successful flight, sent an instrumented balloon aloft and planned to launch a second rocket later this week, NASA announced on Wednesday.

NASA scientist W. A. Brence, who is in Australia, reported to the space agency headquarters here on Wednesday that a sounding rocket carrying X-ray equipment was recovered after a 14-minute, 114-mile flight from Woomera, Australia. The rocket was launched last Saturday and recovered in a desolate area, he said, and instruments on the rocket operated normally.

Brence, manager of NASA’s team at Woomera, said a second rocket carrying ultraviolet detection equipment will be launched later this week, and a third is set for Monday.

It will be months, however, before data gathered by the rocket is analyzed.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announcement said a high- altitude balloon carrying gamma ray detection equipment lifted off on Wednesday from Alice Springs, Australia, but there was no information on the outcome of the experiment. The balloon carried instruments developed by the California Institute of Technology and was expected to stay aloft for 10 to 14 hours.

Late last month, the NASA-Australian team launched another balloon and successfully recovered it after a 43-hour flight. That balloon also carried gamma ray detection equipment.

NASA also is flying the Kuiper Airborne Observatory out of Christchurch, New Zealand. The aircraft, a modified Air Force C-141 jet transport, is equipped to search for infrared emissions from the exploding star. It is to fly a total of eight missions by Nov. 28, officials said.

The exploding star, or supernova, was discovered on Feb. 23 by an observatory in Chile. The star, called SN1987A, is visible principally from the southern hemisphere and from space. NASA and Australian scientists, under terms of an agreement signed last September, are working together to study the rare astronomical event.

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