Special Bulletin: October 8, 1999

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Phase 3D to be Launched Aboard an Ariane 5

MARBURG, GERMANY (October 8, 1999) AMSAT's most ambitious project to date -- the International Phase 3D communications satellite -- has now been accepted for launch aboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 launch vehicle.

Dr. Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, AMSAT-Germany's President and Phase 3D Project Leader released the following statement:

"As the primary agency responsible for securing a launch opportunity for Phase 3-D, I am pleased to announce that AMSAT-Germany and Arianespace have now come to an agreement calling for the launch of P3-D as a secondary payload aboard the "first suitable" Ariane 5 flight."

Dr. Meinzer went on to comment that, "From the very beginning of the Phase 3-D project, we considered the Ariane 5 series our primary launch vehicle. Our long history of success and mutual cooperation with both the European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace, coupled with our need to lift P3-D into a high geostationary transfer orbit, made the Ariane 5 the unanimous choice by AMSAT."

Following standard protocol, specific details of the launch agreement were not released.

AMSAT-NA President Keith Baker, KB1SF, was elated with the latest news. "I'm very pleased to see that AMSAT-DL's negotiations with Arianespace have resulted in a launch contract for Phase 3-D, and I'm delighted we are again slated to fly on an Ariane vehicle," he said. "Following the resounding success of Ariane flight 503, the Ariane 5 has now proven itself to be a very capable launcher. When coupled with our many past successes with ESA and Ariane, I believe we now have an unbeatable combination. Once it is in orbit, the Phase 3-D satellite will not only help us usher in the new millennium, it will also signal the dawn of a brand new era for Amateur Radio," he concluded.

While both AMSAT presidents expressed optimism for an early launch of the satellite, Dr. Meinzer expressed caution that the wait for the "first suitable" flight could still turn out to be a long one. "While the launch of Phase 3-D could come as early as the first half of the year 2000, we must remember that Ariane's launch manifests are continually being updated to accommodate market changes as well as the availability of other payloads. Thus, one or more changes to P3-D's anticipated launch date, along with its specific Ariane 5 mission number, are a very real possibility before our satellite actually flies," he said.

Nevertheless, based on its new 'standby' launch status, Phase 3D is slated to be delivered to the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana later this month so as to be ready for quick integration once Arianespace identifies a specific Ariane 5 launch vehicle for P3D's ride to orbit.

While its primary focus is on improved worldwide satellite communications, the Phase 3D satellite will also have a very positive influence on the very future of Amateur Radio. Built primarily from donated resources, the International Phase 3D team includes participating AMSAT groups from Austria, Great Britain, Japan, Canada, Finland, Russia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, France, New Zealand and Hungary, in addition to the groups from AMSAT-Germany and AMSAT-North America.

AMSAT is very proud of its long tradition of excellence and the contributions it has made to the advancement of space communications, space education and the space sciences. Phase 3D will be Amateur Radio's premier vehicle to continue the quest for new communications technologies for generations yet unborn.

[ANS thanks AMSAT President's Dr. Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC and Keith Baker, KB1SF, and congratulates the entire Phase 3D team on this exciting announcement]