To Catch a Falling Satellite

It is the fate of many a dead satellite to spend its last years tumbling out of control. A fuel line may burst, or solar wind may surge, or there may be drag from the outer reaches of the atmosphere—and unless a spacecraft has been designed in some way that keeps it naturally stable, chances are good that it will begin to turn end over end. That’s a problem, because Earth orbit is getting more and more crowded. Engineers would like to corral old pieces of space junk, but they…

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