ARRL

ARRL Satellite Bulletin ARLS026 (1997)

SB SPACE @ ARL $ARLS026
ARLS026 September Phase 3D Launch Doubtful

ZCZC AS26
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Space Bulletin 026  ARLS026
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT  July 30, 1997
To all radio amateurs

SB SPACE ARL ARLS026
ARLS026 September Phase 3D Launch Doubtful

The September 30 launch of the Phase 3D Amateur Radio satellite was
put in grave doubt this week.  It appears extremely unlikely that
Phase 3D will be able to meet revised mechanical specifications in
time to fly on schedule aboard the Ariane 502 rocket.  AMSAT
officials are holding out a glimmer of hope that the Ariane 502's
schedule will slip just enough to let Phase 3D catch up again, but
those chances are considered very slim.  In a statement, AMSAT
called the turn of events ''very bad news.''

AMSAT-NA President Bill Tynan, W3XO, confirmed that, in order to
include Phase 3D, the Ariane 502's overall launch schedule would
have to slip a month or two.  But, he said, ''if it goes on schedule,
we won't go on '502.''

The latest setback for the next-generation Amateur Radio satellite
came when the European Space Agency (ESA) significantly increased
its estimate of vibration levels the Phase 3D payload would be
exposed to aboard the Ariane 502.  The revised estimates mean AMSAT
will have to move fast to make structural changes in the Phase 3D
spaceframe in order to withstand the anticipated rougher ride.
Phase 3D Project Leader Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, told ESA in mid-July
that the work required by the agency's new information would prevent
AMSAT from delivering the spacecraft to Kourou, French Guiana, by
the specified August 10 date.  AMSAT brought in an independent
structural engineer to review the spacecraft's design and
construction.  Since his report, AMSAT said that ''substantial effort
has been taking place at the Phase 3D Integration Lab in Orlando,
Florida'' to make and install the recommended structural
reinforcements.  That work continues.

If the Phase 3D payload is not going to be available on time, AMSAT
must supply a ''mass simulator'' representing the Phase 3D spacecraft
by September 5.

Tynan was philosophical about the latest complication for the Phase
3D program.  ''This is the way engineering works sometimes.  It's
trade-offs and give-and-take with other people.''  He said it was too
early to speculate on future launch possibilities.
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