TSS paper weight

Philip Chien (kc4yer@amsat.org)
Tue, 27 Feb 1996 22:38:24 -0400

In reply to my remarks/questions regarding the TSS tether break, Philip Chien
>> According to ASI the satellite was worth about $200-400M > (depending on
>whether or not you count the cost for the original > satellite, modifications
>after the first flight, etc.)  But in any case
>> the satellite was designed for only two flights.  So from one point
>> of view nothing of value was lost - since it wasn't designed to be
>> used again.

to which "Rob Matson" <Rob_Matson@cpqm.saic.com> replied:

>If this is the case, then I can certainly understand why they wouldn't attempt
>recovery.  I was under the mistaken impression that it was a reusable
>satellite, with future missions pending.  Thanks for clearing that up.  Seems
>to me from a safety standpoint, once the satellite was reeled out and its
>experiments completed, the plan all along would have been to "cut the cord".

Now where did I state or imply that to be the case?

In fact in an earlier message I clearly stated:

>> I talked with two of the NASA HQ
>>scientists before launch about the mission success criteria.  The key task
>>was to get beyond 12 km. (which they did) and perform the science at
>>station 1 for at least ten hours (which they didn't).  Nowhere in the
>>mission success criteria is returning the satellite mentioned!  However, as
>>he put it, they would certainly be upset if they didn't return it since it
>>was one of the goals.

>No sense attempting to reel it back in and risk the Shuttle/astronauts if the
>payload has no real value.

Au contraire!  While the payload may not be qualified to fly again that
does not lead to the conclusion that there's no sense to attempt to reel it
back in.

a)  As noted in another post hardware returned from space always have value
for materials analysis

b)  reeling in the satellite reduces the amount of space garbage.  (really
- when you go hiking to you toss your litter away on the trail because it
no longer has any real value??)  Environmental correctness certainly
applies to space travel whenever feasible.

c)  The very act of reeling in the satellite is of extremely important
value.  The dynamics are complicated, but extremely useful for obtaining
engineering and scientific information, hence the two-step retrival, first
to an intermediate distance and then all the way in.

d)  returned satellites look real pretty in museums ...

Philip Chien, Earth News - space writer and consultant  PCHIEN@IDS.NET
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