Space: Heavenly Help to the Rescue

A Soviet satellite ushers in an era of extraterrestrial aid

When a small plane carrying three men disappeared over the wilds of northeastern British Columbia last month, Canadian officials despaired of rescuing them. The area is so rugged that, short of heavenly help, finding them quickly seemed impossible. Yet through a miracle of the space age, the help came. On its regular sweep over western Canada, a Soviet satellite, equipped with special electronic "ears" to hear the beeps of small planes or ships in distress, picked up the downed aircraft's automatic emergency beacon and relayed the signals to an antenna outside Ottawa....

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