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...

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!