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Space


TSS

Although Italy's primary involvement in geophysics experiments is via ESA, a major national project undertaken in conjunction with the US is the Tethered Satellite System (TSS). Designed for deployment by the US Space Shuttle, TSS is a 520-kg, 1.6-m diameter satellite equipped with 70 kg of instruments to evaluate the upper atmosphere and geomagnetic field at the end of a 20-km-long, 2.5-mm-diameter Kevlar tether. The first flight of TSS, developed by Alenia Spazio, was on STS-49 in July-August, 1992. Unfortunately, deployment difficulties occurred almost immediately and the TSS tether was extended only about 250 m, when a protruding bolt in the Martin Marietta deployment mechanism jammed the device. The aborted experiment, however, did indicate that the satellite should be controllable via orbiter maneuvers. In addition to the standard geophysics experiments, the TSS should demonstrate several potential utilities for tethered satellites, including electrical power generation. The TSS alone may generate up to 5,000 volts as the tether passes through the geomagnetic field. A reflight of TSS is scheduled for early 1996 (References 50-55).




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