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Oct. 11, 2000

Electrical problem postpones Thursday's Atlas launch By Kelly Young FLORIDA TODAY CAPE CANAVERAL - The launch of an Atlas 2A rocket scheduled for Thursday has been postponed indefinitely due to an electrical problem with its payload. The rocket was to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The team managing the Defense Satellite Communications System III satellite discovered a problem with its initiation timer during a routine electrical test late last week. The timer starts the deployment of the satellite's solar arrays and tells the satellite when to begin orbital operations.

"As of today, the Air Force and the contractors are going to continue to analyze and test it (timer) to find the root cause (of the problem)," Air Force spokesman Ken Warren said.

It will take a week for the team to investigate the situation and determine the next step, Warren said.

The $200 million, 2,700-pound satellite is to be part of a 10-satellite constellation for secure voice and data transmission for the military. For instance, it could be used by Department of Defense officials and field commanders to communicate during wartime.

The satellite, primarily built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, Calif., will be the second of four DSCS III System Life Enhancement Program satellites. Slightly heavier than their predecessors, the satellites produce more electrical power through solar arrays, meaning better communication.

The satellites have been used by the military since 1982.


-- Doris (reaper@pacifier.com), October 11, 2000

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