NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis launched
July 31, 1992, from Cape Canaveral, Fla., carrying
two experimental spacecraft: a European science platform and a joint NASA-
Italian Space Agency satellite.
During the nine-day mission, the seven-person STS-46 crew deployed the European Space Agency’s European Retrievable Carrier (Eureca) and the Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1) mission.
contained a series of microgravity experiments, primarily involving life sciences and radiobiology but also
Earth science and physics, from seven European nations.
The spacecraft remained in orbit 499 kilometers above
Earth until it was retrieved and stowed aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour January
to test whether
electricity could be generated by
floating a spherical probe 1.6-meters in diameter
attached to an electrically conductive tether through
Earth’s magnetic field.
However, the test failed
when the tether was jammed by a protruding bolt in the reel preventing it
from extending beyong
256 meters in length. The tether was meant to extend the
probe 20 kilometers above the shuttle.
Attempts were made to free the tether during the next several days, but the astronauts
were unable to
fix the problem.
Atlantis returned to Cape Canaveral Aug. 8 with TS
S-1 in tow.