Bouncing in outer space...

Technicians are struggling to save the $850 million Artemis communications satellite after Arianespace sent into orbit 10,000 miles too close to earth.

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By  Alex Marklew Published  July 13, 2001

The multi-million dollar Artemis communications satellite is floating uselessly in space after it was placed in the wrong orbit.

Arianespace launched the satellite, which was supposed to set a new standard for mobile communications and open up much of North Africa and the Middle East, successfully at 3am Dubai time this morning.

However, a malfunction caused the rocket to deploy Artemis, and a Japanese TV satellite, 10,000 miles short of the intended orbit. Although the satellites both have their own positional engines, firing them now could drastically reduced their 10 year lifespans.

“Thanks to the availability of the ion propulsion system for position-keeping manoeuvres, most of the chemical fuel on board the satellite can be used to raise its orbit to the right altitude,” said Gotthard Oppenhauser, Artemis project manager.

“Experts are working out a strategy to make the best use of the available fuel.

“Our ground controllers were ready for such an eventuality,” he said.

“The team is well practised in reacting to all sorts of potential problems and we are confident that a good technical solution to the problem will be eventually found.”

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