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The European Space Agency (ESA) telecommunications satellite launched on 12 July 2001 from Kourou, French Guiana, by the Ariane 5 launcher as part of the ESA's Data-Relay and Technology Mission. Its rocket suffered a malfunction, and the satellite went into an abnormally low transfer orbit. After 18 months, however, this was corrected by on-board technology. The satellite carries three communication payloads (data relay, navigation enhancement, and extension of mobile communication via satellite) and an ion engine thruster system to correct its position in geostationary orbit. The ion propulsion system uses only 10% of the fuel compared to a conventional system using chemical fuel. However, due to partial launch failure, chemical fuel was used to raise the orbit from 17 000 km to a circular orbit of 31 000 km altitude. The remaining 5 000 km to the geostationary orbit would be achieved by means of the ion thruster system. Artemis reached its geostationary orbit in January 2003, and has an operational lifetime of five to seven years. For their work in rescuing the satellite, its team received the 2003 Space Operation and Support Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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