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Cosmos 1 in Space or Bottom of Sea?

    It's unclear what happened to Cosmos 1, the solar sail. The Planetary Society and Cosmos Studios say their team is getting faint signals from the spacecraft ("We have reviewed our telemetry recordings and have found what we believe are spacecraft signals in the data recorded at the tracking stations in Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka and Majuro, Marshall Islands...." etc.) But the Russians now say it has crashed into the Barents Sea not far from where it was launched. There may be no business crueller than spaceflight: People have worked for years on space probes that have crashed or, worse, just vanished without explanation (the Mars Observer being the most notorious in that category). For the sake of the scientists behind Cosmos 1, I hope it turns up somewhere, like that lost Boy Scout or the Runaway Bride. But space travel tends to be unforgiving. Got a bad feeling that this spacecraft is currently exploring the bottom of the sea.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 22, 2005; 11:39 AM ET
 
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