Space: Drifting to Work

Getting the communication satellite Syncom II smoothly into its 22,500-mile, 24-hour orbit (TIME, Aug. 2) was only the beginning of the job. There was still a series of delicate maneuvers to be performed before the spacecraft could do its appointed work. Accurate guidance was needed to match Syncom's orbit to the earth's rotation; it was moving a little too fast, drifting ahead of the earth by about 7.5 degrees of longitude per day. Out on the Navy control ship Kingsport in Lagos harbor, Nigeria, engineers sent radio signals that fired jets of...

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