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Tether mishap ‘slingshots’ capsule into space

Tether mishap ‘slingshots’ capsule into space

New Scientist

Image: bark

A small space capsule has been lost in Earth orbit after a space tether experiment went awry on Tuesday. The capsule will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and parachute down at an unknown location.

Despite the mishap, the team behind the mission say it shows that space tethers can provide a cheap and safe way to return a payload from an orbiting satellite back to Earth without using costly rocket boosters.

The Young Engineers Satellite 2 (YES2) mission, coordinated by ESA and the Russian Space Agency, was to have unfurled the longest human-made structure in space – a 30-kilometre-long, 0.05 millimetre-thick tether, made of a super-strong polythene fibre called Dyneema. This would have connected a Russian-operated satellite to the beach-ball-sized capsule called Fotino. Read more…