ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS010 (1996)

ARLS010 Phase 3D update

Space Bulletin 010  ARLS010
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT  July 31, 1996
To all radio amateurs

ARLS010 Phase 3D update

AMSAT says the Phase 3D international satellite could launch as
early as mid-February, 1997, as a passenger on the next European
Space Agency (ESA) Ariane 5 mission, AR 502. ESA said the launch
will come ''within the first six months of 1997.''

AMSAT officials now are completing all integration and testing
efforts for the Phase 3D satellite in time for the launch, which had
been set for this fall. However, the failure of the first Ariane 5
mission in June set back the launch schedule. An ESA board of
inquiry blamed a software glitch for the Ariane 501 failure. The
latest announcement came July 27 during a joint
AMSAT-Germany/AMSAT-North America presentation on Phase 3D's status
to the 1996 AMSAT-UK Colloquium at the University of Surrey in
England. The decision reaffirming the use of the Ariane launch
vehicle followed a series of high-level meetings between AMSAT and
ESA officials July 23 and 24.

Phase 3D project leader Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, AMSAT-DL president, was
upbeat about the announcement. Meinzer said AMSAT had been assured
that ESA is taking the inquiry board's recommendations to heart
''and are now rolling up their shirtsleeves to correct those
deficiencies in time for the Ariane 502 launch next year.'' Meinzer
said he's ''very confident'' that ESA will do all to insure a
successful launch.

AMSAT-NA's Keith Baker, KB1SF, was equally positive about the latest
developments for Phase 3D's launch. ''The fact that the
investigators were able to use recovered debris and subsequent
laboratory analysis to duplicate the exact sequence of events that
caused the AR 501 failure gives us renewed confidence for the
prospects of a successful launch on AR 502.''

AMSAT-NA President Bill Tynan, W3XO, also viewed the latest launch
developments for the Phase 3D satellite as good news. ''However,
this still places responsibility for completion and testing of Phase
3D firmly in our court,'' he said. ''We must still finish final
integration and testing of the satellite by year's end, conduct the
launch campaign, and insure the necessary funds are secured to do
so.'' Tynan said even if the launch comes off as planned, the
unanticipated delay of a year or more ''translates directly into a
critical need for additional funding to insure Phase 3D is complete
and flight-ready when ESA tells us it is time to launch.''

The Phase 3D satellite, now under construction by AMSAT, will be the
largest, most complex, and most expensive Amateur Radio satellite
ever built. For more information, contact AMSAT-North America, Keith
Baker, KB1SF, executive vice president, 1324 Fairgrounds Rd, Xenia,
OH 45385-9514, tel 513-429-5325, e-mail or