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ASTRO-F First Coupling Test

The first series of flight-type coupling tests of the infrared astronomy satellite ASTRO-F started on April 1. ASTRO-F is designed for infrared astronomy and investigates formation and evolution of the galaxies, stars and planets. It has a special onboard telescope which is cooled to –270°c by liquid helium in order to detect faint infrared from celestial bodies.

The picture shows ASTRO-F in its almost finished form after 2 weeks from the start of testing. The bottom octangular part is the bus module; the upper cylindrical part is the cryostat which contains the telescope. Electrical testing is now underway to verify performance of every instrument. Although no serious problems have been found so far, we will take every caution in proceeding with the testing so that we may not overlook latent problems.

The ASTRO-F satellite is scheduled for launch at the beginning of 2004.

August 6, 2002