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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!