Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Creativity saved AEHF

For months military personnel tried to save the Advanced Extremely High Frequency 1 satellite after it failed to launch into geosynchronous orbit in 2010. Valued at over $1 billion, AEHF 1 is the first in a series of nuclear-survivable spacecraft designed to ensure American leadership with communications and was launched in August 2010. But when debris in the propellant line prevented the Liquid Apogee Engine from firing, the satellite seemed doomed to remain in the transfer orbit. But after more than a year, the satellite was coaxed into orbit thanks to engineering creativity. The team used smaller hydrazine thrusters to lift the orbit a bit, then electric thrusters were used in a way never planned: fired for days, weeks and months to push AEHF 1 into a circular geosynchronous orbit on Oct. 24, 2011. (Source: Spaceflight, 01/03/12) Gulf Coast note: The Lockheed Martin AEHF satellite's core propulsion module is built at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous post