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Backup thrusters to put military satellite in final orbit
Posted: Tue, Aug 31, 2010, 9:48 AM ET (1348 GMT)
AEHF satellite illustration (LM) The US Air Force said Monday that it has developed a backup plan to put a new communications satellite into its desired orbit after the satellite's primary thruster failed. The Advanced EHF 1 (AEHF-1) satellite was launched earlier this month on an Atlas 5 and put into a transfer orbit; the satellite's liquid apogee engine would then raise the spacecraft into geosynchronous orbit. That engine has suffered an unspecified anomaly and is no longer available to raise the satellite's orbit, Air Force officials said. Instead, engineers have developed a plan to use a smaller thruster on the satellite to move the satellite into GEO, but over the course of 7-8 months instead of the original 30 days. The backup plan will not reduce the spacecraft's lifetime but will delay when it will be able to be put into use.
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