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Phase 3D Gets Firm Launch Date

NEWINGTON, CT, Nov 2, 2000--AMSAT News Service says the next-generation Phase 3D satellite now has a firm launch date and time. ANS says it's been informed by "various sources" that the Ariane 507 carrying Phase 3D and other satellite payloads aloft will head into space Wednesday, November 15, at 0107 UTC from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French, Guiana.

The Radio Club of Kourou's FY5KE has announced plans to broadcast the Phase 3D launch on 14.315 MHz in French "and probably in English." The transmission will start at approximately 15 minutes prior to launch and will end about 45 minutes later when the satellite is put on orbit.

Also atop the Ariane 5 rocket will be the PanAmSat 1R communications satellite--the largest and primary payload--and two British Space Technology Research Vehicle minisats, STRV 1C and STRV 1D. If all goes as intended, the Ariane 5 will place all four satellites into geostationary transfer orbit.

Phase 3D, at more than 1400 pounds and nearly 20 feet across, will be the largest Amateur Radio payload ever put into space. In October, AMSAT-DL Executive Vice President Peter Gülzow, DB2OS--who's heading up the Phase 3D launch campaign--pronounced the satellite "ready to fly" after it passed all of its pre-launch inspections, testing, and preparation. Gülzow has been filling in for Phase 3D Project Leader Karl Meizer, DJ4ZC.

Once in the geostationary transfer orbit and deployed by the Ariane 5, Phase 3D will fire its own motor and thrusters that eventually will put the satellite into a high elliptical orbit that's almost 30,000 miles from Earth at its farthest point. Establishing the satellite's final orbital configuration will take up to one year.

Phase 3D has been moved into the final assembly building at the European Spaceport, where all of the Ariane 507 payloads will be integrated with the launch vehicle.