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Like Germany, Italy is heading an international effort to field a complex X-ray observatory designed to characterize a variety of stellar and galactic objects. The Satellite Astronomic raggi-X (SAX) program represents a bilateral agreement between Italy and the Netherlands for the launch of a 1.4 metric ton spacecraft by an American commercial Atlas 1 launch vehicle SAX and Germany's ROSAT were originally conceived as US Space Shuttle payloads, but restructuring of the STS program in the wake of the Challenger accident forced both satellites to expendable vehicles.

Sponsored by the Italian Space Agency and the Dutch Space Research Organization, SAX is being prepared under the prime contractorship of Alenia Spazio with assistance from Fokker. The spacecraft is designed to operate in a 600 km high orbit with a nearly equatorial inclination. The spacecraft will be 2.7 m in diameter and 3.6 m long with two solar arrays (2.6 m by 3.5 m each) capable of producing 2.5 kW of electrical power. The spacecraft is anticipated to be operational for up to four years. A suite of Italian X-ray telescopes and detectors and Dutch Wide Field Cameras will span an energy range of 0.1-300 kW, concentrating on longterm variable sources. During 1992-1994 the program came under attack for both rising costs and technical difficulties. A planned early 1994 launch date was postponed nearly two years (References 261-264).

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:52:08 ZULU