January 28, 2001

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Phase 3D/AO-40 Update

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).

(above taken from the AMSAT-DL web site)

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 arcjet 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.

ALON/ALAT is currently 248/-7, as last listed on the AMSAT-DL web page.

AO-40 element set number 28 is as follows:

Satellite:  AO-40
Catalog number:  26609
Epoch time:      01018.53756618
Inclination:     5.9258 degrees
RA of node:      230.0726 degrees
Eccentricity:    0.8133560
Arg of perigee:  208.4998 degrees
Mean anomaly:    11.7742 degrees
Mean motion:     1.26922670 rev/day
Decay rate:      -1.63e-06 rev/day^2
Epoch rev:       99
Checksum:        299

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]

SpaceNews Final Edition

After thirteen years of providing cutting-edge satellite news to amateur radio operators around the world, SpaceNews, authored by John Magliacane, KD2BD, issued its final release, dated January 29, 2001.

KD2BD reported that it was "with great sadness that after many years of service to the Amateur Radio satellite community, I have decided to bring the SpaceNews publication to a graceful close." KD2BD noted the tremendous amount of time, effort and dedication to publish an electronic newsletter single-handedly each week as part of his decision.

SpaceNews originally started out as effort to increase the awareness of advancements being made by the Amateur Radio Service. It was first edited on a Commodore 64 home computer and distributed via packet radio. It led to an amateur radio satellite column in Satellite Times magazine.

Calling SpaceNews a "labor of love," KD2BD added that "SpaceNews has been a pretty good success!" ANS could not agree more and congratulates John Magliacane for his dedication to the amateur radio satellite community.

AMSAT-NA President Robin Haighton, VE3FRH, told ANS the following:

I am very sorry to see SpaceNews disappear as John has done sterling service over the past 13 years and I have appreciated each issue. Thank you John for a job well done.

An outstanding achievement!

Robin Haighton, VE3FRH
President AMSAT

[ANS thanks John Magliacane, KD2BD, for advancing amateur radio satellite technology through his efforts with SpaceNews]

AMSAT at Florida Hamfests

AMSAT-NA Vice President of Field Operations Barry Baines, WD4ASW, reported to ANS that AMSAT-NA will be involved in two major hamfests soon to take place in the Sunshine State. The Miami Hamboree will be held February 3-4th and the Orlando Hamcation on February 10-11, 2001.

Dave Jordan, AA4KN, is leading the AMSAT booth effort at Orlando and WD4ASW will be responsible for the AMSAT booth at Miami. Both expect to give AO-27/UO-14 demonstrations. An AMSAT forum is scheduled for both hamfests as well. At Miami, the ARRL's Steve Ewald, WV1X, and AMSAT's WD4ASW will be providing a basic overview of AO-40 and the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program.

At Orlando, Stan Wood, WA4NFY, AMSAT-NA Vice President of Engineering (along with other members of the Phase 3D Integration Team) will give an AO-40 overview. Lou McFadin, W5DID, will handle the ARISS information.

Volunteers are needed to help man the AMSAT booth at both hamfests. If planning to attend either Miami or Orlando, please consider volunteering. If interested, contact WD4ASW ( for details.

Both weekends will provide a great opportunity for highlighting AMSAT!

[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA Vice President of Field Operations Barry Baines, WD4ASW, for this information]

ANS in Brief

ANS news in brief this week includes the following:

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS . Mir . RS-12 . RS-13 . RS-15 . AO-10 . UO-11 . UO-14 . AO-16 . DO-17 . WO-18 . LO-19 . FO-20 . UO-22 . KO-23 . KO-25 . IO-26 . AO-27 . FO-29 . TO-31 . GO-32 . SO-33 . PO-34 . SO-35 . UO-36 . AO-40 . SO-41 . SO-42

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at, or to ANS Editor Dan James, NN0DJ, at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT  News Service editor Dan James, NN0DJ.