A team of Italian space engineers will attempt to launch a U.S. satellite on December?
A team of Italian space engineers will attempt to launch a U.S. satellite on December 12 from their San Marco launch platform off the coast of Kenya.
Using an American Scout rocket, the Italians are trying to place a satellite called "X-ray Explorer" into a circular orbit along the equator. The position of the San Marco platform in the Indian Ocean makes it easier to achieve for a launch from Cape Kennedy.
The satellite will be the first to be equipped with sensitive equipment to detect high-energy X-ray sources in space. For some years sounding rockets to gain X-ray information have been launched into space. But the new equipment, described as a giant step in astronomy, will enable considerably more information to be obtained.
The satellite is planned to have a six-month life. Already scientists have found about 40 distinct sources of X-rays, one of the most energetic forms of steller radiation. Nearly all these sources are believed to lie in our galaxy, the milky way, and the average power output is about 1,000 times greater then the total energy output of our sun.
With the information from the satellite added to the research carried out by sounding rockets, the Italian-U.S. project opens a new window on the mysteries of the universe.