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p3d launch article



i received this article from a friend. although the thought and spirit of the 
article is to benefit ham radio, i think that factual data should always be used 
so as not to deceive the reader. this article was published in a commercial 
newspaper in australia.

i would like to know the source of information as it does not appear to be 
correct. 

where did he get the figure $200 million for the commercial cost?
where did he get the figure $5 million for the actual cost?
also, this is not a free launch, amsat has paid for the launch. 

how did these inaccuracies get into an article like this???

73...bruce

Satellite launch a giant step for amateur radio 
   By: Peter Ellis
   Canberra Sunday Times
   November 12, 2000
   Peter Ellis tells the story of a space curiosity that will be orbiting
   over Canberra next week.

   WHAT AM I? I have brains, eyes, ears, mouth and arms; I am full of
   ammonia but do not smell; I am a great listener but can also talk like
   a parrot; I have wings that fly on the sun's wind; I have wheels that
   take me nowhere; I speak many languages but understand none. I fly free
   but I am kept captured by a great force; I am a curiosity that few
   people know about and very few will ever see. I am small and simple,
   yet I am the biggest and most complex. I have a name that is out of
   this world Phase 3D. I am a communications satellite, but I was built
   by amateurs amateur radio operators. And I will finally be launched in
   the next week. When Phase 3D hitches a ride into space on Wednesday at
   12.07pm Canberra time on one of the very early commercial launches for
   the new Ariane 5 rocket, it will be setting new standards for the
   conquest of space by ordinary folk. P3D is the largest and most complex
   Orbital Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio of about 40 successfully
   developed, built, launched, controlled and used by amateur radio
   satellite operators (AMSAT) around the world over the last 40 years.
   Add the 18 Russian amateur radio satellites and the total is almost 60,
   with more being built each year often as part of university research
   programs. Commercial satellite builders think the amateur radio
   satellites are toys. P3D is the largest and most expensive amateur
   satellite and cost about $US5 million (over $A9 million), raised from
   subscriptions and donations from amateurs world-wide. The builders
   donated their time and talents. A commercial version would have cost
   well over $US200 million (about $A400 million). The opportunity to
   piggyback on government and commercial launches happens because
   satellites come in various sizes. The difference between a rocket's
   potential and actual "pay"-loads is dead-weight ballast, or is offered
   for free rides by amateur radio satellites and others designed and
   built by universities and institutions. AMSAT helped design and build a
   launcher adaptor ring for P3D. The launcher operator will be able to
   use the design for other secondary payloads. Amateur radio satellites
   have regularly risked the trial launches of new rockets, before paying
   customers will take the chance. For example, Fuji-OSCAR 12 was launched
   in 1986 by the first test flight of the Japanese H-1 launcher. Phase
   3C/OSCAR 13 was launched in 1988 by the first test flight of the Ariane
   4 launcher from Kourou, French Guiana. P3D weighs 646kg and will launch
   on the sixth flight of the Ariane 5 rocket. The 4.75-tonne PANAMSAT
   PAS-1R communications satellite is the paying customer, and the 100kg
   STRV-1C and 1D satellites are also taking a ride. Ariane 5 is the
   flagship for Arianespace, owned by a consortium of European space
   organisations. Its launch site is at Kourou in French Guiana on the
   north-east coast of South America, down the coast from the Caribbean
   islands. At only four degrees from the equator, this site is ideal for
   a European commercial launch company to send rockets over the expanse
   of the Atlantic where strap-on booster rockets can fall, be recovered
   and reused. As currently built, Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket can lift
   about 6.5 tonnes to Geostationary Transfer Orbit, with growth planned
   to almost double that within several years. GTO is the orbit where
   communications satellites can be manoeuvred into their stationary
   orbits over the equator and, coincidentally, P3D's final orbit will
   approximate this. Australia's amateur radio operators will be tracking
   P3D during the first critical days and weeks, gathering data it
   transmits to prove it is operating normally. Several Canberrans are
   ready to feed data back to the command stations. P3D's German design
   was built by amateurs for amateurs. It has become reality because
   people cooperated from countries such as Germany, Hungary, United
   States, Slovenia, Japan, Great Britain, South Africa, Belgium, the
   Czech Republic, Canada, Finland and France. Three main computers keep
   P3D's systems alive. They interpret the digital data flowing between
   its systems and through receivers to its transmitters. Its
   Japanese-built cameras will be able to send simple images of Earth and
   space, and help the ground stations to point it at Earth. The sun and
   Earth-edge visual sensors tell P3-D which direction to point. Receivers
   cover across some 130 octaves from short wave to microwave, and an
   experiment will investigate the other short-wave frequencies in the
   Earth's far atmosphere. Its transmitters cover up to the high
   microwave. It has two arms or wings carrying its solar cells, charging
   its batteries to carry it through Earth's shadow. The total power
   budget at launch is about 500 watts; much less than a normal house's
   lights at night. P3D's directional stability and rocket system was
   designed and built in Germany. It carries a small ammonia-powered
   experimental "arcjet" engine that will boost it into a highly
   elliptical orbit over many months. It also carries a large rocket
   engine burning hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide that will be used to
   finally kick it into its looping orbit. P3D's magnetic-reaction coils
   will push against the Earth's magnetic lines of force, and three-axis
   momentum wheels will also help stabilise it so the antennas are pointed
   at Earth. It has two GPS receivers which will calculate details about
   its orbit. It will research the solar cosmic radiation with instruments
   built in England. So few people know of P3D that it is a curiosity even
   among amateur radio operators. Not many more than those who assembled
   it at Orlando, Florida, will have even seen it before launch. Yet, as
   it flies high and slowly over the northern hemisphere, and more through
   the southern skies, it will be transmitting data on its infrared laser
   and so be visible through a "nightscope". Amateur radio satellites have
   always been at the forefront of adventure and experiment in space. The
   first Orbital Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio, the first of the Phase
   1 satellites, was launched on December 12, 1961, by a Thor Agena B
   rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The 4.5kg OSCAR 1
   was launched piggyback with Discovery 36, described recently as a
   United States Air Force spy satellite. OSCAR 1 was box-shaped with a
   single antenna and went into a low orbit. Its low-power transmitter
   discharged its batteries after three weeks. Five hundred and seventy
   amateurs in 28 countries reported receiving its simple "HI-HI" morse
   code signals until January 1, 1962. The speed of the HI-HI message was
   controlled by a temperature sensor inside the spacecraft. OSCAR 1
   re-entered the atmosphere on January 31, 1962, after 312 revolutions.
   In 1965 OSCAR 3 featured solar cells for the first time. University of
   Melbourne students heard their Australis-OSCAR 5 in January 1970, the
   first remotely controlled amateur satellite. It was battery-powered and
   over seven weeks it provided contacts between hundreds of stations in
   27 countries. AMSAT OSCAR 6 in 1972 was the first Phase 2 satellite,
   featuring a control system using discrete logic and
   satellite-to-satellite relay communication via AO-7. It demonstrated
   doppler-location of ground stations for search and rescue (which is now
   common) and low-cost medical-data relay from remote locations. OSCAR 7
   in 1974 was built by a multi-national team from Germany, Canada, United
   States and Australia and featured a store-and-forward message relay
   system. The first Russian Radio Sputnik satellites were launched on
   October 26, 1978. They have been followed by six launched together on a
   common launch vehicle on December 17, 1981. Two Russian satellites were
   launched from the Salyut 7 space station in 1982. RS-17, a scale model
   built by high-school students to commemorate the 40th anniversary of
   the launching of Sputnik 1, was launched by hand on November 4, 1997
   from the Mir space station by Russian cosmonauts. Then, most recently,
   Sputnik 41/RS18 was launched by hand one year later. AMSAT Phase 3A was
   launched on May 23, 1980. The launch failed and the P3A did not reach
   orbit. The new series of OSCARS featured rocket motors as well as
   external control. UO-9, launched October 6, 1981, was the first
   experimental satellite from the University of Surrey in Britain. It was
   a scientific and educational low-orbit satellite containing many
   experiments and beacons, and featured an on-board computer. It was
   still in operation nine years later when it re-entered the atmosphere.
   Phase 3B/OSCAR 10, launched on June 16, 1983, is still operating. By
   the late 1980s many other groups were trying for space. In one launch
   on January 22, 1990, the Brazilian O-17, the US Webber University's
   O-18, and Argentina's O-19 were launched. Another Japanese satellite
   was launched 16 days later. In the next three years, groups in England,
   the US, France, Korea, Italy and Portugal had satellites. This was also
   the beginning of the fully digital satellites allowing computer
   networking around the world. In 1995, Mexico and Israel joined the
   club, Thailand in 1998, and South Africa and Malaysia this year. Space
   has manned amateur radio stations, too. The first such mission was on
   the space shuttle in the early 1980s, and they are repeated regularly
   when payload and power allow. The Russian Mir space station had several
   sets of equipment sent to it, including a camera transmitter and a
   repeater. The idea is that astronauts and cosmonauts speak over amateur
   radio in their planned spare time to school amateur radio stations and
   ordinary amateurs. Like Mir, the International Space Station - newly
   named "Alpha" - already carries amateur radio equipment. Two members of
   its first three-man crew, two cosmonauts and an astronaut, launched
   last week, have amateur radio licences and will soon be setting up the
   equipment to talk to stations on Earth. Amateur radio operators are
   dedicated to self-education in their technical hobby. They build their
   station equipment and antennas to talk to friends across the world, or
   with some satellites use the electronic mailboxes to send messages on a
   type of radio Internet. AMSAT satellites are used for educational
   purposes in schools and youth science competitions to introduce young
   people to space technology and exploration, with amateur radio
   operators supervising students' use of radios to communicate via the
   satellites. Amateurs have modified their high-gain receivers to listen
   directly to manned landings on the moon and more recently hear the Mars
   orbiters. It is the adventure that drives them to spend time building
   radios or modifying cast-off commercial equipment to show what is
   possible with some knowledge and ingenuity. P3D has been 12 years in
   planning and six years in construction. Spare a thought for the AMSAT
   Germany project leader, Professor Dr Karl Meinzer, and the mission
   director, launch campaign, Peter Guelzow, and their team, who have
   watched their child grow from conception to maturity. Who else but the
   adventurous amateur radio community would pay for their mates to build
   their bright ideas, then strap it to a pile of explosive propellant and
   light the fuse? This week, applaud the spirit of volunteerism that has
   seen people around the world give freely of their intellect and talents
   for a satellite that has the potential to be so much space-junk or,
   through the experiments by amateur radio operators, change how mankind
   communicates in space.

   Amateur radio in the ACT is heavily involved in community activities,
   as safety radio operators at several car rallies, the Two Day Walk,
   Coach Riding Championships at Bungendore, etc.

   Contact the Wireless Institute of Australia ACT at
   http://www.vk1.wia.ampr.org; email: president@vk1.wia.ampr.org or
   phone 6254 3266.
   Scanner can be tuned to the local radio repeater stations on 146.900
   and 435.825MHz. On the Net: AMSAT - http://www.amsat.org
   http://www.amsat-dl.org and http://www.amsat.org PANAMSAT PAS-1R -
   http://www.panSTRV-1C 1D satellites - http://www.dera.gov.uk/
   amsat.com/ Arianespace - http://www.arianespace.com




============================================================================
Bruce Paige, KK5DO                      Internet: kk5do@amsat.org
Houston, Texas                                
AMSAT Area Coordinator                      
ARRL Awards Manager (WAS, 5BWAS, VUCC), VE                     
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