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ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS021 (2000)

ARLS021 Phase 3D is In Orbit!

QST de W1AW  
Space Bulletin 021  ARLS021
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington, CT  November 16, 2000
To all radio amateurs

ARLS021 Phase 3D is In Orbit!

In what was described as a ''spectacular nighttime launch,'' the
next-generation AMSAT Phase 3D Amateur Radio satellite blasted off
from Earth on schedule November 16 at 0107z. Hitching a ride aboard
an Ariane 5 vehicle, Phase 3D was among four satellite payloads
heading off into orbit from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French
Guiana--just five degrees north of the equator.

''It was a textbook launch,'' said Phase 3D Mission Director and
AMSAT-DL Executive Vice President Peter Guelzow, DB2OS. Guelzow,
who's filling in for Phase 3D Project Leader Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC,
said that from launch through separation about 45 minutes later,
''all received telemetry indicates the launch went perfectly, and our
satellite appears to be in very good health.''

When Phase 3D was successfully deployed by the Ariane 5 launcher at
0153z, cheers erupted from the AMSAT team monitoring the flight's
progress from the Arianespace control room.

Newly elected AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, hailed the
news of the launch. ''You know, this really is the start of a new era
in ham radio,'' Haighton said. He called the design, building and
financing of P3D by international volunteers ''a great achievement.''

A ''general beacon'' was said to be transmitting on approximately
435.450 MHz. Earlier today, the Phase 3D PSK beacon turned up on
145.898 MHz--slightly different from the expected frequency. It was
monitored by Norbert Nothoff, DF5DP, transmitting
telemetry--including text blocks. ''We had some concern earlier this
morning because the satellite didn't show up on the expected
frequencies and hence missed any sign of life from the bird,''
Nothoff said.

The Ariane 5 placed Phase 3D into geostationary transfer orbit, from
where it will be nudged into its final elliptical orbit. It was the
last of the four payloads to be ejected into orbit by the launch
vehicle. The satellite is not expected to be ready for general use
for about nine months. Initial housekeeping tasks were under way in
the hours following the launch and separation. To move P3D from the
geostationary transfer orbit, the satellite's onboard arcjet motor
will burn intermittently at perigee over a 270-day period, with
final inclination and apogee adjustments made by the spacecraft's
400 Newton motor. Once these maneuvers are completed and three-axis
stabilization is achieved, the solar panels will be deployed. At
that point, Haighton said, it's anticipated the satellite will be
fully operational for use by Amateur Radio operators around the

The satellite's initial orbit puts it some 585 miles above Earth at
the closest point. Phase 3D's final elliptical orbital configuration
will put the satellite some 2500 miles away from Earth at its
nearest point, and some 29,500 miles at its farthest.

At 630 pounds and some 20 feet across when the solar panels are
deployed, Phase 3D is the largest Amateur Radio satellite ever put
into space. The launch culminates years of planning, design and
construction as well as an ambitious fundraising campaign. The ARRL
was among the major contributors to the Phase 3D project. Three
other satellites--the giant PanAmSat PAS-1R communications satellite
and the smaller STRV-1C and 1D satellites--joined AMSAT Phase 3D for
the ride.

Haighton's immediate predecessor as AMSAT-NA president, Keith Baker,
KB1SF, told AMSAT News Service that he was ''delighted'' by the news
of the Phase 3D launch. ''I have no doubt that today will be regarded
as one of the greatest days in the history of Amateur Radio,'' he

AMSAT-NA Board Chairman and past AMSAT-NA President Bill Tynan,
W3XO, was among those keeping a close ear on the launch activities
and participating in the AMSAT Launch Information Service. ''I can't
begin to tell you how happy I am to see P3D in orbit,'' said Tynan.
''It's been a long time, a long road--a bit rough at times,'' Tynan

For more information, visit the AMSAT-NA Web site,


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