From: Goddard Space Flight Center
Posted: Tuesday, December 24, 2002
The end of the final stage of the Artemis recovery is now in sight. Only 700 km orbital height and about 45 days now remain before Artemis will reach geostationary orbit. Artemis is now expected to be in its working position by the end of January 2003.
The Artemis ion propulsion unit continues to exhibit a stable and efficient performance and its thrust is producing an increase in orbital radius of more than 15 km/day. After the hectic and exciting orbital recovery operations in the days after launch, it was not easy to come to terms with the incremental progress provided by the ion propulsion.
Once on station Artemis will function as originally planned for the baseline mission. Although there is sufficient chemical propellant for 10 years operation, studies are in progress to determine the best strategies for the use of the ion propulsion as well.
By good fortune Artemis will arrive on station just when a significant community of users is waiting for it. After an exhaustive check-out of the Artemis payloads using the in-orbit test facilities at Redu, Belgium, it will be released to serve its first users SPOT-4, Envisat, Egnos and Eutelsat. A preparatory test will also be made with NASDA’s Earth observation mission ADEOS-II. Other users planning to use Artemis in future include the automated transfer vehicle and Columbus elements of the International Space Station.
Not only will Artemis have clocked up a number of unique first-time applications during its recovery action: first optical inter-orbit satellite link; first major re-programming of a telecommunications satellite; first orbital transfer using ion propulsion; longest operational drift orbit ever; but it will also provide the promotional opportunity and stimulus for future European data relay services. We see a promising future for this incredible mission.
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