Tuesday's scheduled launch of the British-Dutch-US Infrared Astronomy Satellite officially opens the 1983 NASA space-flight year. That honor was to have gone to the first mission of the space shuttle Challenger. But its launch has slipped to late February.
In addition to these two missions, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans a variety of other launches, many of which are to orbit communications satellites. There are 23 in all.
Shuttle missions are now scheduled for April, June, September, and November as well as for February. NOAA-E, a polar-orbiting weather satellite, is scheduled for March. It carries a search-and-rescue facility to help locate ships or aircraft in trouble. GOES-F, a weather satellite in geosynchronous orbit, is scheduled for April. It should make up for the failure of the picture-taking system in the GOES-WEST Pacific Ocean weather satellite.
An Italian-US atmospheric research satellite is scheduled for May. The remaining launches of communications, navigation, and Defense Department satellites are scattered throughout the year.