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    A preliminary test of instrumentation to be used in the joint Italian-U.S.SAN MARCO project was?

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    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: A preliminary test of instrumentation to be used in the joint Italian-U.S.SAN MARCO project was made Saturday (20 April) aboard a Shotput sounding rocket fired from NASA's Wallops Island Station in Virginia.

    The suborbital launching marks the first flight test in a three-phase cooperative program between the Italian Commission for Space Research and the U.S.National Aeronautics and Space Administration.The program is expected to culminate in the launching of a scientific satellite into an equatorial orbit from a towable platform (resembling a Texas Tower) in the Ocean.

    Primary purpose of today's flight was to ascertain the operational performance of the dynamic balance developed by Professor Luigi Broglio, head of the SAN MARCO project, and his group at the Aerospace Research Center in Rome under the Italian Commission, to measure the total atmospheric drag upon a satellite in orbital flight.

    Further suborbital tests of the SAN MARCO instrumentation are scheduled from a towable platform in the Indian Ocean later this year with another NASA Shotput vehicle.If successful, this will be followed by an orbital Scout launch next year at Wallops Station prior to the final attempt at the Indian Ocean Site.

    The resulting scientific data will be made available to the world community of scientists.

    Basic objective of the SAN MARCO project is to perform high altitude measurements of atmospheric and ionospheric characteristics in the equatorial region.

    The project was conceived by Professor Broglio, Chairman of the Italian Commission, and has been develop under his direction by a group of scientists and engineers from the Commission.NASA Program Manager is R.D.Ginter of the Office of Space Sciences.

    The Italian group is responsible for the design, fabrication, and ground testing of all payloads and experiments as well as for the orbital launchings, the towable platforms, and such tracking and data acquisition facilities as are particular to Project SAN MARCO and which are not available from NASA.NASA is providing the launching vehicles and such training of Italian personnel as may be needed.The Goddard Space Flight Center assisted in ground testing pending completion of test facilities in Italy.

    The preparation of the SAN MARCO payload, including the experiments, the construction of the satellite structure and telemetry, is being carried out by Italian university scientific groups under the Italian Commission.

    Professor Nello Carrara, head of the Italian National Institute of Microwaves in Florence, is responsible for the preparation and construction of the ionospheric experiment and the transmitting antenna of the future SAN MARCO payload.

    Other Italian scientists who have been working with Professor Broglio include Professor Paolo Santini, trajectory computations; Dr.Giorgio Ravelli, payload engineering; Dr.Carlo Buongiorno; technical coordination; Dr.Michele Sirinian, vehicle and operations; Dr.Ugo Ponzi, payload structure; Dr.Carlo Arduini, data reduction; Dr.Bruno Ratti, telemetry; Dr.Giuseppe Spampinato, vehicle assembly; Dr.Mario Marconi, structure equipment; Dr.Gennaro Orsi, machinery and power supply; and Dr.Severino Giorgi, trajectories.

    The Shotput is a combination of standard solid propellant rocket motors devised by NASA Langley Research Center.Today's experiment utilized the sixth Shotput vehicle built by Langley and launched from Wallops Island.Previous Shotput launches occurred during the early flight tests of the project ECHO inflatable satellite payload package.

    Shotput is a two-stage vehicle, without guidance, stabilized by aerodynamic fins which impart a slight pin to the entire assembly.The main stage is a Thiokol Pollux E6 booster to which are attached two Thiokol recruit assist motors.The second stage motor is the Hercules Powder Company's X-248 Altair rocket.At take-off, Shotput develops 120,000 pounds of thrust.The complete assembly is 32 feet long, 33 inches in diameter and weighs 11,000 pounds at launch.

    The Shotput launch vehicle includes timers to control second stage fairing jettison and second stage ignition, as well as devices to cancel the spinning motion and disconnect the payload from the upper stage motor at the proper time.Mechanical and electrical performance of the vehicle is reported by telemetry to the launching station.

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