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Telescope Slightly Out Of Orbit

The world's most powerful X-ray telescope isn't quite where NASA wanted it, but its orbit is still acceptable for astronomical observations.

An engine firing over the weekend raised the high point of the Chandra X-ray Observatory's orbit to 86,433 miles, about one-third of the way to the moon. That's 559 miles lower than intended, but still well within the specifications.

One of two engines used to boost the telescope performed slightly below expectations, program manager Fred Wojtalik said Monday. As a result, a backup pair of engines will be used to raise the low end of Chandra's orbit on Wednesday and again on Saturday.

Astronauts released the $1.5 billion telescope from
space shuttle Columbia on July 23. The Observatory will spend the next five years looking for black holes and studying stars, galaxies and quasars.

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