Solar Maximum Mission

Solar MaxNASA launches the unmanned Solar Maximum Mission satellite atop a Delta 3910 rocket, to study cyclical solar flare activity from Earth orbit. Built by Fairchild and relying on a magnetic reaction wheel system to maintain precise aim at the sun, “Solar Max” suffers malfunctions in orbit, and will be able to carry out only limited observations by November 1980. In 1984, Solar Max will become the first satellite to be repaired in-orbit by a visiting space shuttle crew. After repairs, the satellite will be released, with its life span in orbit having effectively doubled. It will remain in orbit, and functional, through 1989.