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Experiment will use microwaves to boost spacecraft
Posted: Wed, Nov 6, 2002, 8:04 AM ET (1304 GMT)
Microwave beam to spacecraft illustration (UCI) Scientists at the University of California Irvine have announced plans to test a technique of using ground-based microwave beams to change the orbits of spacecraft. The proposal, led by physicist Gregory Benford — also a well-known science fiction author — will involve Cosmos 1, the solar sail mission that The Planetary Society plans to launch next year. Once Cosmos 1 completes its initial flight tests, Benford's group will transmit microwaves towards the satellite from NASA's 70-meter antenna in Goldstone, California, and measure how much the microwave beam changes the orbit of the spacecraft. While Benford does not expect a major change in Cosmos 1's orbit, the test will be the first attempt to use microwaves to alter a spacecraft's orbit.
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