The serious radio signals that twice postponed the launch at Cape Canaveral of a European weather satellite apparently came from a U.S. Air Force tracking ship testing its radios in a nearby port.
So convinced were National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials that they had found the cause of the errant radio signals that they rescheduled the satellite launch for 8:30 p.m. yesterday, Called Meteosat 1, the satellite is the first weather satellite built by the European Space Agency in a program that will cost the 10-nation agents $240 million.
Identical to the commands given to destroy rockets that veer off course, the errant signals were discovered last Wednesday night during an electrical test of the Delta rocket's command-and-destruct system. The explosive devices that would have destroyed the rocket were disconnected during the test, which is a routine precaution before every launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The test showed that signals being received by the rocket carrying the satellite were identical to the twin sets of signals sent to arm and detonate the explosives carried by every rockets that goes aloft from Cape Canaveral. The signals are only sent to destroy rockets that go off course towards the Florida coast.
The satellite was due to be launched last Sunday and was postponed to Monday, when it wa spostponed again.
"It was the Redstone tracking ship in port at Port Canaveral," said John F. Yardley, associate administrator for space flight. "Apparently technicians were testing some radios that give out the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] command and destruct signal for missiles that we use for rockets."
Before identifying the errant signals space agency officials investigate that either they came from a Soviet electronics ship 500 miles at sea or [WORD ILLEGIBLE]U.S. Navy ship that had been conducting electronic warfare exercise with the carrier Forrestal and the aircraft last Wednesday night.
The signal that arms the explosives on rockets is sent at 40 megacycles, which is ultra high frequency and far beyond the ordinary broadcast frequency. The signal that detonates the explosives is modulated by tones precisely repeated 30 times; one second [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]