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NASA Tries To Save Spinning Craft

March 6, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Ground controllers worked Saturday to develop a method of regaining control of a science satellite that was spinning uselessly in orbit.

The Wide-Field Infrared Explorer, or Wire, has been spinning at one revolution per second since its launch Thursday night, apparently because of the thruster-like action of hydrogen gas venting from a system used to keep the satellite’s telescope extremely cold.

The $67 million mission was designed to help scientists understand how and when galaxies formed, and the history of star formation.

Ground controllers were in contact with the spacecraft and were trying to write a software program that would use the spacecraft’s limited attitude control system to make it stop spinning.

``The subsystems are in good shape,″ said Jim Watzin, a project manager in NASA’s Small Explorer program. ``The solar arrays are generating power and the battery is fully charged. We have plenty of power to effect a recovery.″

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