News of the WeekSpace Science

Red Tape Entangles Small Satellite

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Science  12 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5404, pp. 919
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5404.919

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A new generation of small, bargain-priced science satellites has become imperiled by a U.S. policy prohibiting launching taxpayer-funded payloads aboard foreign rockets. The policy has exacerbated a decade-long shortage of U.S.-made rockets that has discouraged researchers from planning small missions, as most U.S. rocket companies have little interest in building small, low-cost launchers. NASA officials hope to win a presidential exemption to the ban, but the political climate has chilled in recent months after revelations that China may have stolen high-tech secrets from U.S. satellites launched there.