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Re: AO-40 Arcjet Engine



At 01:29 PM 6/7/2001, MediaOne wrote:
>Why not dump the 400N motor's liquid fuel, the fuel and oxidizer,
>separately, or at least one of the two, to reduce the mass of the bird?

I believe the main arguemtn against it is that no one knows if that can be 
done safely.  We all know there has been a malfunction in the propulsion 
system (400N motor and supporting tanks, fuel lines, valves, etc.), but we 
don't know the details of the present configuration of these 
components.  For that reason, it is difficult to predict what will happen 
if we open a valve now.  Will fuel be discharged inside the satellite?  We 
don't know.  Would this cause further damage, perhaps knocking out more 
wiring and taking more electronics offline?  No one knows.

There is also some risk associated with firing the arc-jet now due to the 
uncertainty about the damage.  However, there is considerable benefit 
associated with firing the arc-jet, both to this mission, and the value to 
future missions of having tested the thing in space.  I believe that many 
folks belive (er.. hope) that the benefits outweigh the risks in this case.

These are, of course, value judgements.  The above is just my opinion.  Its 
ok with me if someone else has a different judgement.

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