NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive Header




The TSS-1R mission is a reflight of the Tethered Satellite TSS-1 that had been flown on the Space Shuttle mission STS-46 in July of 1992. A protruding bolt had prevented full release of the tether during the TSS-1 mission. The TSS mission equipment consists of the deployer system, the Italian-build satellite, the electrically conductive tether (22km total length) and 6 science instruments. The TSS-1 is to be deployed from a reel in the orbiter payload bay upward (away from Earth) to up to 20 Km (12.5 miles) above the Orbiter. The objectives of this mission are: (1) to verify engineering performance of the Tethered Satellite System (TSS); (2) to determine and to understand the electro-magnetic interaction between the tether/satellite/orbiter system and the ambient space plasma; (3) to investigate and to understand the dynamical forces acting upon a tethered satellite; (4) to demonstrate electrical power generation; and, (5) to develop the capability for future tether applications on the Shuttle and Space Station. The deploying system consists of a motor- driven tether storage reel and level wind system. A separate multipurpose equipment support structure (MPESS) carries all science instruments not integrated on the satellite, with the exception of the Tethered Optical Phenomena (TOP) equipment, which is carried in the crew compartment. The spherical satellite is 1.6 meters in diameter and 6.5 meters in length. The S-band antenna, magnetometers, and Research on Orbital Plasma Electrodynamics (ROPE) equipment are mounted on stationary booms, and the Research on Electrodynamic Tether Effects (RETE) Langmuir probe and dipole field antenna are mounted on 2.5 meter deployable/retractable booms. At the base of the satellite, a swivel joint and a bayonet pin attache the tether to the satellite. A connector routes the tether conductor to an ammeter and then to the satellite's skin. The satellite contained cold gas (nitrogen) thrusters used for deployment, retrieval, and attitude control. The 2.54 mm diameter conducting tether was constructed using Kevlar and Nomex with 10 strands of 34 AWG copper wire and a Teflon sheath. NASA is reponsible for the TSS deployer and systems integration, and Italy for building the satellite. Five hours after deployment began on February 25, 1996, with 19.7 km (of 20.7 planned) of tether released, the tether cable suddenly snapped near the top of the deployment boom. The TSS satellite shot away into a higher orbit. TSS instruments could be re-actived and produced science data for three days until battery power ran out. An independent review panel was formed to review the TSS-1R failure.

Alternate Names

  • 23805
  • Tethered Satellite System 1R

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1996-02-25
Launch Vehicle: Shuttle
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 518 kg

Funding Agencies

  • Piano Spaziale Nazionale of CNR (Italy)
  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Space Physics
  • Engineering

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. Dieter K. Bilitza



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Prof. Marino DobrowolnyProgram ScientistConsiglio Nazionale delle
Mr. Robert O. McBrayerProject ManagerNASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Dr. Michael A. CalabreseProgram ManagerNASA
Dr. Stanley D. ShawhanProgram ScientistNASA Headquarters
Prof. Franco MarianiProgram ScientistConsiglio Nazionale delle
Mr. James M. SissonMission ManagerNASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Mr. Nobie H. StoneProject ScientistNASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Dr. Robert A. HoffmanProgram ScientistNASA Goddard Space Flight
Dr. G. ManariniProgram ManagerConsiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche

Other TSS-1R Data/Information at NSSDCA

Independant panel formed to review TSS-1R loss (02/26/96)
Early results from TSS-1R may cause revision to theory (05/23/96)
Report on TSS-1R tether failure released (06/04/96)

Related Information/Data at NSSDCA

STS 75

Other Sources of TSS-1R Information/Data

TSS home page

[] NASA Logo -