Re: ERBS Having Problems

Richard Fredrick (
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 20:03:21 -0600

Hi All,

I haven't observed ERBS that many times, but when I did it evoked a
strange feeling because of the shuttle from which it was released -

Philip Chien wrote:

> ERBS (15354 1984 108B) was launched in October 1984 on the 41-G shuttle
> flight.  I seem to recall a planned lifetime of about 5 years or so.  After
> it was released by the shuttle's robot arm it raised its orbit with its own
> thrusters.  I do not believe it has any components which are designed to be
> serviced in flight.  In theory it could be recovered by the shuttle if it
> could reduce its altitude to a shuttle-compatible rendezvous altitude
> because it has the proper mechanical fittings (grapple fixture, trunion
> pins) but there are no plans to do so (no reason to spend so much money
> just to take a spacecraft home for display in a museum).
> >From what I remember ERBS has to turn around 180 degrees a couple of times
> each year, similar to UARS.
> One of the scientists told me many years ago that the turnaround was the
> biggest concern in terms of operations.  He added that there were a couple
> of folks who were almost wishing that ERBS would fail during one of those
> maneuvers so the difficult decision wouldn't have to be made to shut off a
> functional spacecraft due to lack of budget.
> In any case it's amazing that it's lasted as long as it has, and is still
> returning useful data.  I would hardly categorize _ANYTHING_ which a
> spacecraft lasting three times its planned lifetime does as "major
> problems".  At this point it's amazing that it's still running at all.
> The satellite's deploy from the shuttle was featured in the IMAX film "The
> Dream is Alive".
> Philip Chien, KC4YER
> Earth News
> world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator,
> all-around nice guy, etc.



Richard Fredrick      

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