Left Picture: Ground-based observation of SEDS-2 (see more in Missions)
Right picture: TSS-1R from the Shuttle Bay
The Special Projects Group of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (Cambridge, MA) is where many of the fundamental contributions to space-borne tethered systems (courtesy of NASA) have been made since the early 70's.
Two group members, the late Drs. Giuseppe Colombo and Mario Grossi, jointly held the fundamental patent on the Shuttle-borne orbiting tether (US patent #4,097,010 dated 6/27/78), that was originally conceived by Grossi in the early 70's as a space-borne antenna and a tethered satellite to measure its radiation pattern. Since then, the Group has received many contracts and grants from NASA and aerospace companies for the study of several applications of tethers in space.The group members, Enrico C. Lorenzini (group's head), Robert D. Estes, Mario L. Cosmo, Gordon E. Gullahorn (associate) and Yakov Alpert (emeritus) have proposed several of the tethers-in-space systems that have been analyzed or flown by NASA during the last two decades.
Members of the special projects group were actively involved in six tethered orbital flights.
Click here for a brief description of the missions.
The special projects group has acquired great expertise through two decades of studies and involvement in tethered system flights to become a leader in tethered satellite technology and a driving force behind the next generation of tethered systems such as bare tethers for in-space propulsion (click here for a .pdf copy of our 1995 White Paper) which will be first tested with the flight of ProSEDS in August 2000 from a Delta second stage.During the last 10 years, members of the group have published more than 100 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings, and more than 150 NASA reports.
For more information about past and present activities on tethered satellites at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory please contact Enrico Lorenzini at:e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org