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June 29 SPACE NEWS article about P3D

The professional trade newspaper "SPACE NEWS" printed an article 
about Phase 3D and the Ariane 5 launch in their June 29 issue. 
Titled "ESA drops Amsat for dummy payload on Ariane 5," the 
article starts out by recounting what we alrady know, that P3D 
was originally scheduled to fly on 502, that it missed the 
launch deadline because of last minute changes required by ESA, 
and that Amsat was notified on June 16 that P3D would not be 
carried on the 503 launch. ESA believed that the commercial
Eutelsat W2 satellite would be riding on 503, but a fire at a 
contractor's plant in France on May 18 destroyed a similiar W1 
version of the satellite, causing Eutelsat to withdraw from 
launch negotiations. ESA and Arianespace have decided to launch 
a dummy satellite on 503 to simulate the W2 satellite.

The article continues:

>Soon after learning of Eutelsat's decision, Amsat officials
>thought the Phase 3D satellite would be selected for the launch.
>But in the letter to Meinzer, Fredrik Engstrom, ESA's director
>of launches, said it would take up to eight months to prepare
>Phase 3D for the flight -- too long to wait. 
>Meinzer is incredulous. "Why should it take eight months to
>adapt our satellite to Ariane 5? This is a question I have. I
>also don't know why all these tests couldn't have been done
>earlier this year." Meinzer said Amsat told ESA that it might
>not find a commercial passenger and should prepare for a 
>possible Phase 3D launch. "No one believed us and nothing was
>done," Meinzer said.
>Engstrom said in a June 24 interview ESA had declined to conduct
>tests on Phase 3D earlier this year because the agency was certain
>the Eutelsat satellite was going to be on the Ariane 5 flight.
>"Conducting these compatibility tests on Phase 3D would have 
>been fairly expensive, and we saw no likelihood that we would
>have a place for Amsat," Engstrom said.
>William A. Tynan, president of Amsat North America, said in 
>a June 24 statement that its satellite was designed for an
>Ariane launch. Adaptations would need to be made for another
>Meinzer said Amsat now has two problems: getting its launch
>fee refunded from ESA and finding a way to launch Phase 3D.
>He said ESA refunded only half the 1.3 million euro (1.4 
>million dollar) launch fee, keeping the other half as a 
>penalty for being late on the previous Ariane 5 flight.
>"They didn't accept that our lateness was due to their last
>minute changes in specifications," Meinzer said. "We are
>certainly going to take action to get that decision reviewed."
>Tynan said that "while we are disappointed, crying and gnashing
>of teeth never accomplishes anything." He said Amsat hopes to
>negotiate a low-price launch with Arianespace.
>Engstrom said the agency would do what it could to aid Amsat
>in finding space aboard an Ariane flight. "Arianespace's 
>problem now is late satellites, and that means launching on
>occasion with extra space on the rocket," Engstrom said.
>"This extra space could be filled by Amsat. Everyone knows
>Amsat is a good organization, and we will do our best to
>help them out.
>"We had an agreement with Eutelsat and there was no reason 
>for us to undertake the many and costly tests to qualify
>Amsat for the launch. Now it is too late. We have estimated 
>that it would take around eight months and our first priority
>is to get the rocket up."

Article written by Peter B. de Selding

Dan Schultz N8FGV
Via the amsat-bb mailing list at AMSAT.ORG courtesy of AMSAT-NA.
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