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Delicate rescue saves stranded $1.7B US satellite

Ground crews save $1.7B US military satellite stuck in wrong orbit, at risk of blowing up By The Associated Press

DENVER (AP) ' Air Force ground controllers last year successfully rescued a $1.7 billion military communications satellite that had been stranded in the wrong orbit and at risk of blowing up, possibly because some cloth had been left in a fuel line during manufacture.

Crews used backup propulsion systems to coax the satellite more than 21,000 miles higher. It took 14 months as the satellite battled gravity and dodged space junk. It finally arrived at its planned orbit last October.

The Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite is the first of six in a $14 billion system. It's designed to give the military more communications capacity than its current Milstar system as well as resist jamming.

The Air Force says it's in good shape and has enough fuel to complete its 14-year mission.

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