Lost In Space: The launch industry falters

The launch industry falters

When a $150 million communications satellite was stranded in space last week, the fledgling U.S. commercial launch business may have been set adrift with it. Owned by Intelsat, a Washington-based consortium of 118 countries, , the satellite, which was to handle phone calls and television transmissions, failed to separate on schedule from its booster and tumbled into a useless low orbit. Though Intelsat technicians managed to lift it a bit higher, the five- ton payload nonetheless seemed destined to plunge back to earth within a few months, unless NASA can arrange a rescue by the space shuttle.

Rescue or no, the...

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