The Scramble for Profits Aloft

Communicating by satellite sparks a spirited race to space

When the Columbia space shuttle rises from its Kennedy Space Center launch pad this week, some anxious businessmen in the U.S. and Canada will be glued to their television sets, and not just to marvel as the reusable spacecraft's twin Thiokol rockets thrust it up and over the blue Atlantic. The launch, fifth in the Columbia series, will be the first in which the shuttle begins earning money from private, corporate customers for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Aboard the craft will be two satellites, each...

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