December 9, 2001

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ARRL AO-40 Update

Last week, ANS reported on upcoming adjustments to AO-40's attitude to compensate for unfavorable sun angles over the next several months. The scheduled attitude shift to compensate for an unfavorable sun angle will leave AO-40's antennas pointing away from Earth until next spring and will lead to a transponder shutdown period.

AO-40 command station team member Stacey Mills, W4SM, provided ANS with additional details about this announcement:

More and more messages are appearing on the AMSAT-BB indicating that the transponders on AO-40, or even the entire spacecraft, will be shut down completely for 3-4 months. This has led to concerns not only about a complete loss of use for several months, but whether AO-40 would even wake back up!

On reading recently published information, I can see how this could be confusing. The fact is that once we leave ALON/ALAT 0/0, we won't be able to get back to this orientation until early April 2002, and the optimal conditions that we have now will not be available until then.

During this time there will be periods when it makes absolutely no sense to have the transponders active, so they will be turned off. However, the middle beacon will remain on during these times.

Early in this period command stations will drop AO-40's ALAT by between -30 to -50 degrees. In this configuration, squint angles are not very good during any part of the orbit - thus no transponder operation. Our main intent is to slide under the Sun in short order to approximately ALON/270. We will then raise ALAT to 0. In that configuration it should be possible to activate the transponders for a short period right after perigee. Given the short range, signals could be extremely good during this approximately 1-hour window. As the Sun moves out of the way, we can progressively move toward ALON/ALAT 0/0, modifying (actually lengthening) the transponder schedule as we go.

In summary, there will be periods of no transponder activity, hopefully just a few weeks, and there will be a much longer period of limited (but progressively increasing) transponder activity. As we approach 0/0 the squint angle will dramatically improve, and so will the transponder times.

AO-40 command stations will make every effort to activate AO-40's transponders, even if for only a short time each orbit, when conditions are appropriate.

During any transponder shutdown period, telemetry data also will also be harder to come by. Command stations are asking telemetry gatherers to be as active as possible during any transponder downtime.

Stacey Mills, W4SM

[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA for this information]

STS-108 Mission Underway

Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off this past week on the final space shuttle mission of 2001, and, after a flawless climb to orbit, its crew is now well into their mission to deliver a fresh crew to ISS.

Endeavour is commanded by Dom Gorie with Mark Kelly serving as pilot. Mission Specialists are Linda Godwin and Dan Tani. Also aboard Endeavour are station Expedition-4 crewmembers Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch. Endeavour will bring home the Expedition-3 station crew, Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin, who have been aboard the station since mid-August.

Shuttle Commander Dom Gorie brought Endeavour to a gentle linkup with the ISS as the two craft sailed over England. Within minutes, Pilot Mark Kelly and Mission Specialists Linda Godwin and Dan Tani began to conduct post-docking checks of the mechanical interface between Endeavour and ISS. The hatches were then opened, enabling the ten crewmembers to greet one another.

The crews now begin a busy week of handing over station responsibilities and unloading tons of supplies brought to the complex by Endeavour, including several thousand U.S. flags (to honor those killed in the September 11th terror attacks) and Starshine-2, the third in a programmed series of student built mirror-covered satellites.

[ANS thanks NASA for this information]

AMSAT-NA Volunteer Survey

AMSAT-NA has developed a new on-line volunteer survey, designed to identify the interests and skills of those who may be available to directly help in efforts to develop the amateur satellite program.

The survey was developed by a committee led by AMSAT-NA Vice-President and Government Liaison Perry Klein, W3PK.

The new survey is designed to be completed and returned on-line, and takes only a few minutes to fill out. To request the survey, simply send an e-mail request to

[ANS thanks AMSAT-NA 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 . 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.