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Special AMSAT Bulletin ANS-028.01



SB SAT @ AMSAT $ANS-028.01
PHASE 3D/AO-40 UPDATE

AMSAT NEWS SERVICE BULLETIN 028.01 FROM AMSAT HQ
SILVER SPRING, MD, JANUARY 28, 2001
TO ALL RADIO AMATEURS
BID: $ANS-028.01

The month of January continues with command stations working in
their on-going recovery efforts of AMSAT OSCAR 40.

The AMSAT-DL web site is currently featuring the following statement:

No news is good news. Due to limited command team access time to
AO-40 (because of current orbit parameters), things have slowed down
a bit. The spin rate is reported at 17.7 rpm. Whole Orbit Data (WOD)
collections are in progress to recover telemetry data from orbit-phases
where AO-40 cannot be heard properly. The latest measurements show
stable battery-voltages and positive battery charging (except for eclipse
times at perigee).

ANS can report that discussions recently took place between
AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, and AMSAT-DL
President Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC,  concerning the progress being made
in the recovery of AO-40.

The current problem is the lack of accurate AO-40 attitude data.

Accurate data is not available due to the current off-pointing of the
onboard Sun-sensor (the sensor is simply not 'seeing' the Sun). 
Until accurate measurements can be made AO-40 will remain in
a semi-hibernation state. When accurate measurements of attitude
can again be made it will be possible to change the satellite's attitude,
which will ultimately lead to correct pointing of AO-40's high-gain
antennas.

If no commands are transmitted to the satellite it will take about
3-months before AO-40's attitude can be measured. However, the
command team is currently working on additional measures in the
hope that the attitude may be determined by other means (such as
measuring the radiation falling on the solar cells). If any of these
attempts are successful, then adjustments to the satellite's attitude
will begin earlier.

On a more positive side there does not seem to be any additional
damage to AO-40, at least since communication was re-established
on Christmas day, although several systems remain to be tested
including the Arc-Jet motor. This motor is a critical item for making
future orbit changes that will be required for satisfactory operation of
the satellite. Another very positive item is that the magnetorquing
systems appear to be working, which should also help make the
needed (future) attitude adjustments.

Both AMSAT Presidents noted that when P3D was launched it was
announced that it would take almost one year of commissioning 
efforts and orbital changes before the satellite would be considered
fully operational. Thanks to the hard work of the commissioning
and recovery teams - this time appears to be shortening. The
unanswered question remains - what degree of functionality will
AO-40 actually meet? This is the question the command team is
working very hard to answer.

In summary, although optimism is certainly not a guarantee of future
success, both Karl and Robin continue to believe that there will be
successful long-term Amateur Radio communication through AO-40
- with only the final nature of what these operations will actually be -
uncertain at the present time.

VE3FRH and DJ4ZC also noted that is very difficult to put out updated
bulletins concerning the status of AO-40 on a frequent basis. The
command team is involved in their employment and family life in
addition to looking after AO-40, however, every (reasonable) effort is
being made to report progress as soon as it happens.

AMSAT-NA News Service Editor Dan James, NN0DJ, suggests that
readers of the AMSAT-BB who have not subscribed to ANS, do so.
ANS is a free, weekly, news and information service of AMSAT North
America, and reports on the activities of  those who share an active
interest in designing, building, launching and communicating through
both analog and digital Amateur Radio satellites. AO-40 is extensively
covered in ANS.

ANS is first released via the AMSAT-NA 20-meter net held each Sunday
on 14.282 MHz. Pre-net operations start at 18:00 UTC, with current ANS
bulletins transmitted to the eastern U.S. at 19:00 UTC and to the western
U.S. at 19:30 UTC.

Stay tuned to AMSAT News Service, the official source of AO-40 news
and information.

[ANS thanks AMSAT-DL and AMSAT-NA for this information]

/EX
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