Science: Returning Satellite

The physicists and engineers concerned with the 1958 launching of an artificial satellite have steadily assumed that it will be consumed by the intense heat it generates as it plunges back toward earth through the thickening atmosphere. Not necessarily so, says a study released this week by the Rand Corp. (which does research for the Air Force).

Assuming that the proposed satellite (21.5 Ibs., 20-in. diameter) reaches a maximum speed of 18,000 m.p.h., Drs. Carl Gazley Jr. and David J. Masson point out that the temperature of its skin should not rise much above 2,000°F. Although most common metals either melt...

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