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Newsline Special Report

Following is a report filed within the hour to Newsline:

This is a Newsline Extra. Roy Neal, K6DU, reporting.  

Ham radio's newest satellite is in trouble.  Malfunctions in Amsat Oscar 40's 
propulsion system seem to have put the satellite in an unplanned orbit and 
controllers are working on a recovery plan. 

The AMSAT News Service reports that the first attempt to fire the satellite's 
rocket engine failed, apparently because helium valves did not open on 
command. Helium pressure is required to open the engine's fuel valves. 

Controllers were trying to raise the orbit.. After sending up a series of 
commands, ground controllers were able to get the helium flowing, but not at 
required levels.  Later, in a joint release AMSAT Germany 

President Karl Meinzer, D-J-4-Zed-C, and AMSAT-North America President Robin 
Haighton, V-E-3-F-R-H, said that enough pressure was built up and the 
spacecraft was programmed to perform its initial engine burn on Monday, 
December 11. 

The burn began as scheduled, but for yet unknown reasons continued three 
minutes longer than it was supposed to. They say this put A-Oh 40 into an 
unplanned orbit with a 60,000-kilometer apogee.  Apogee is the satellite's 
most distant point from Earth. Newsline still is trying to confirm this orbit.

Meinzer and Haighton said very detailed information on the engine burn was 
collected and had already given them some indications as to what went wrong. 
They said final analysis could show that the situation may have no impact on 
the mission goals or that controllers may need to change strategy for 
achieving a useful final orbit. 

But a report posted on the C-Q Magazine website says  A-Oh 40 may have 
stopped transmitting.  The C-Q story says that the last report of telemetry 
being received was at 11:16 UTC on Wednesday, December 13th. There are 
several scattered reports on the AMSAT Bulletin Board of some weak signals 
received but they are inconclusive.


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