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The public thinks AO40 is dead? crippled?

Fred wrote:

previous comments about AO-40 being "dead" was from only less than a year 
ago.  I think you'll find a lot of hams out there who think AO-40 is dead or 
crippled enough not to use.

Wayne replies:

Even after the QST article reported successful transponder operation, it's not hard to imagine how the average ham would conclude that AO40 is "crippled" after reading "sound bites" in the ham magazines about AO40's winter "sleep" period.  The controllers found a way to prevent the transponder from completely going to sleep, but the extremely limited access time still gave average hams the impression that something is wrong with AO40.  From the standpoint of an AO40 operator, it really WAS crippled for several months this winter.  We know that it's not actually a "problem" with AO40, but just a characteristic of a satellite designed for a high-inclination orbit being in a low-inclination orbit.  But that wasn't communicated in the sound bites.

WE know that AO13 also had seasonal periods where it was nearly unusable due to the solar angle forcing bad squint angles.  But somehow that didn't give AO13 a bad reputation.  The situation is different with AO40 because of the high initial expectations and the near-death experience.  AO40's reputation among the general ham public won't change significantly unless the "sleep" periods can be eliminated.  I hope that 3-axis stabilization can be successfully deployed.

Wayne Estes W9AE
Mundelein, IL, USA

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