SOHO mission interruption joint ESA/NASA investigation board
4 September 1998The SOHO mission interruption joint ESA/NASA SOHO investigation boardconcludes that "there were no anomalies on-board the SOHO spacecraft but that a number of ground errors led to the major loss of attitude experienced by thespacecraft." The full report is now available on-line.
According to the Report's Executive Summary:
Contact with the SOlar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft was lost in the early morning hours of June 25, 1998, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), during a planned period of calibrations, maneuvers, and spacecraft reconfigurations. Prior to this the SOHO operations team had concluded two years of extremely successful science operations. A joint European Space Agency (ESA)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineering team has been planning and executing recovery efforts since loss of contact with some success to date.
ESA and NASA management established the SOHO Mission Interruption Joint Investigation Board to determine the actual or probable cause(s) of the SOHO spacecraft mishap.
The Board has concluded that there were no anomalies on-board the SOHO spacecraft but that a number of ground errors led to the major loss of attitude experienced by the spacecraft.
The Board finds that the loss of the SOHO spacecraft was a direct result of operational errors, a failure to adequately monitor spacecraft status, and an erroneous decision which disabled part of the on-board autonomous failure detection. Further, following the occurrence of the emergency situation, the Board finds that insufficient time was taken by the operations team to fully assess the spacecraft status prior to initiating recovery operations. The Board discovered that a number of factors contributed to the circumstances that allowed the direct causes to occur.
The Board strongly recommends that the two Agencies proceed immediately with a comprehensive review of SOHO operations addressing issues in the ground procedures, procedure implementation, management structure and process, and ground systems. This review process should be completed and process improvements initiated prior to the resumption of SOHO normal operations.