[amsat-bb] Re: Can we get them to fix AO-40 first then?

Rocky Jones orbitjet at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 14 17:15:26 PDT 2009

Larry. (these are just my thoughts, and mine alone...I dont work with the "command team" or anything).

There is no doubt that AO-40 is spinning...radar and optical observation of it shows that.  I also believe that it is "wobbling" as well (I cannot see how it would not be wobbling, I dont think that there is a nutation damper and with all the events that have occurred with it, well it would be hard to imagine it is not...and some observations would lead to that conclusion...)

If it is spinning and wobbling then opening the solar panels, if they could be opened would be dicey.  Some vehicles in the past have been designed to open while spinning (Pioneer V for instance) but I would bet money that 40's are not.  The first concern I would have is "would they stay on"  followed quickly by what is going to happen to the attitude of the vehicle  (since it cannot be controlled) as they open......things could get worse rapidly.

All that might be problematical as I doubt that anyone's "RF" is getting through.

Two things that I have read recently (like in the last week) surprise me.  

The first is that apparently the command team had no real "QRH" (quick reference handbook) for either normal or abnormal or emergency situations.  Layfolks call this a "checklist" and it is standard "stuff" on complex machines...for instance if the same situation were to happen in a transport category airplane the pilots would have "boldface items" which they would perform and then reference printed and thought out procedures.

OK QRH's take time to develop and all...but as a second thing.....I am kind of surprised that with all the events that happen to AO-40 someone didnt think that thhe battery might be a "problem area".  Then  game out what could/would happen as time moved on and have those procedures ready for the "command team".  (as an aside I am surprised that the relay for the battery failed "closed" with a short or undervolt...I dont know what lead the designers to do this, it is required fare in airplanes that battery contractors with an undervolt fail open...)

Once it became clear that AO-40 was going to have a hard time transitioning to a three axis vehicle from a "spinner" and that with substantially less power from the arrays then expected.  It surprised me that .someone didnt think long and hard as to what that would do to battery life and develop in place procedures for all the command team to execute with a drop in battery voltage.

All this and the problems at its birth point to a vehicle that was far to complex for the team to manage both in prep, normal and abnormal/emergency procedures.  

There is in my view a better chance of AO-10 returning to life then 40...I bet you that vehicle looks like one of my classmates A-10 warthog after he tangled with a "zipper" (ZSU-23) ie it is probably full of holes.

As we say here in Texas, it lived hard and died young

(what do I do?  I am a test pilot for the US government)

Robert WB5MZO

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