Another shuttle makeup operation proved itself just two days before the Spacelab launching, when ground controllers radioed up commands that successfully ignited a formerly malfunctioning rocket motor to raise the altitude of the already orbiting Syncom 3
Yet the work carried out on the Syncom 3 communications satellite during the just-completed mission of the shuttlecraft Discovery (though the payoff will not be known until late next month) is a major step in that direction.
Syncom 3 is like that, but if it had been successfully rocketed up to its lofty duty station from the altitude at which the shuttle deployed it barely four months ago, any repairs at all would have been out of reach.
With the device in place, van Hoften gave Syncom 3 a series of shoves--again by hand--until mission control radioed him that the satellite was spinning at a stable two revolutions per minute.
29, by which time Syncom 3 should have reached its proper position and, the company hopes, its propellant will have thawed out from four untended months in the cold of space.