Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Military satellite relying on backup plan to save itself

A rescue plan is being implemented to salvage the U.S. military's pricy new communications satellite despite a serious malfunction that knocked out its main engine and stymied the craft's maneuvering ability.

The Advanced Extremely High Frequency 1 spacecraft was launched into a preliminary orbit by an Atlas 5 rocket on August 14 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

A day after launch during the initial orbit raising burn when the satellite's main engine shut down shortly after ignition for still-unexplained reasons. Another attempt tried August 17 also ended immediately when the engine again failed to generate the expected acceleration.

A makeshift plan has been developed to salvage the mission and AEHF 1 could reach the desired geosynchronous orbit sometime next summer, 7 to 9 months later than scheduled.

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