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Astro-D will weigh 420 kg and be launched on February 6th, 1993, from Kagoshima Space Center by the ISAS launch vehicle, the M-3S-II rocket, into an approximately circular orbit of inclination 31.5 degrees at an altitude varying between 500-600 km. It will be three-axis stabilized to an accuracy of an arcminute, though the post facto attitude reconstruction will be accurate to about 0.1 arcminute. The mirror axis is parallel to the plane of the solar paddles, which means that the observable region of the Sky is a belt $\pm 30$ degrees wide along a great circle normal to the Sun vector. Direct contact between the satellite and the ground stations will be possible for ten of the fifteen orbits per day: five from Japan and five from Australia. Although the designed life time is one year, the mission is expected to last about five years, to generate 200 Mbytes of raw data per day, and may observe up to seven sources per day. The eventual mission archive will contain up to 300 Gbytes of raw data.

Keith Arnaud