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Signal detected from solar sail spacecraft
Posted: Wed, Jun 22, 2005, 8:54 AM ET (1254 GMT)
Cosmos 1 solar sail The Planetary Society said late Tuesday night that ground stations have detected weak signals that they believe are from the Cosmos 1 solar sail spacecraft launched Tuesday, even as Russian officials claimed the launch had failed. The society said that observers at ground stations in Kamchatka and the Marshall Islands had detected faint signals which appear to be transmissions from the spacecraft. Project officials believe that the spacecraft did make it into orbit, but in a different, lower orbit than planned. Previous efforts to detect spacecraft transmissions, as well as efforts by US Strategic Command to track the spacecraft, had failed, perhaps because the spacecraft was not in the expected orbit. The news about the signal acquisition came several hours after Russian media outlets reported that an engine failure on the Volna booster carrying Cosmos 1 kept the spacecraft from reaching orbit. Roskosmos officials reiterated that they believed that the launch had failed even after the Planetary Society reported the detection of signals presumably from the orbiting spacecraft. It may take days to confirm whether the spacecraft is indeed in orbit, and if so, whether the spacecraft will be able to carry out its test of a solar sail.
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