Space: Shifting Orbits

Military satellites will be of little use unless they can change their orbits nimbly—either for evasion or positive action. Such skills are not easily built into rockets, but last week the Air Force launched a Titan III A to show that the task is all but done. The three-stage rocket took off from Cape Kennedy and climbed to slightly more than 100 miles before the "transtage" (third stage) fired briefly and accelerated itself into a near-circular orbit. Then, 90 minutes after launch, when the transtage had almost girdled the earth and was over the California coast, its engine fired...

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