No Go on the Space Shuttle Yo-Yo

Astronauts are forced to abandon a daring, difficult experiment

It was supposed to be another space spectacular, the kind NASA used to pull off like clockwork: astronauts aboard the shuttle Atlantis had plans to dangle a half-ton satellite on a 20.1-km (12 1/2-mile) tether, forming the biggest single orbiting object in history. But like so many of the space agency's ambitious projects lately, this one didn't quite work out. The Italian-made satellite rose properly from the shuttle on a 10-m (39-ft.) boom, but the astronauts couldn't pull out its auxiliary power cord. When they finally got the cord out and began unreeling the satellite, the tether that kept it attached...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!