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Propellant tank problem jeopardizes satellite
Posted: Fri, Dec 10, 2004, 8:33 AM ET (1333 GMT)
Boeing 601 illustration (BSS) The failure of a propellant tank on a Boeing-built Japanese communications satellite could put the new satellite out of service. In a statement issued Friday, Japanese company Space Communications Corporation (SCC) confirmed reports that one of two main fuel tanks on its new Superbird-A2 spacecraft lost pressure on November 28. That anomaly, the SCC statement said, will cause the spacecraft's lifetime to be "significantly shortened", and that the company had stopped the transfer of customers to Superbird-A2 from the older Superbird-A spacecraft. The spacecraft, a Boeing 601 model originally called Superbird 6, was launched in April on an Atlas 2AS. The spacecraft suffered some minor damage to a solar panel after an abnormally low perigee on its first orbit exposed the spacecraft to the upper atmosphere; Boeing and launch services provider ILS have disputed who was responsible for that incident. Boeing officials told Space News Thursday they didn't know if the fuel tank problem was related to that incident.
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