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Re: P3E's orbit

Michael Kjörling wrote:

So would it be possible for the P3E to have an orbit similar to that of
AO-40, but the two being at opposite sides of each other, meaning that P3E
is at perigee when AO-40 is at apogee.

Wayne replies:

P3E is planned to go into a Molniya orbit with an inclination of something
like 63 degrees.  The apogee occurs over far northern latitudes, not near
the equator.  It's quite different from the AO40 orbit.  For hams in the
Northern Hemisphere it results in more available operating time and much
bigger DX windows because the apogee footprint extends over the north pole.
There are times when Japan, North America and Europe are in the window at
the same time.  That is impossible with AO40.  The downside of the Molniya
orbit is that hams in the southern hemisphere don't get to use the satellite
very much because their windows are mostly near perigee.

AO13 was in a Molniya orbit when first launched, but not a stable Molniya
orbit.  Gravitational effects of the moon pulled the satellite out of the
Molniya orbit and the orbit eventually decayed into the earth's atmosphere.
AO10 and AO40 were intended to be in Molniya orbits, but didn't get there
because of propulsion problems.  I sincerely hope that P3E will have better
luck getting into a stable Molniya orbit.

Wayne Estes W9AE
Mundelein, IL, USA

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