Tethered rocket experiments have been carried out three times during a U.S.-Japan joint space program in progress since 1980. The results provide a preliminary test for the U.S.-Italy Tethered Satellite System-1 experiments scheduled for flight with the Space Shuttle in the early 1990s. The goal of the rocket program has been to perform a new type of active experiment by ejecting an electron beam from the tethered mother-daughter payload system. Several important results have been obtained in the series of experiments. In the third rocket flight, the conductive tether wire was deployed to 418 m, which was the first time the wire length exceeded 100 m in the sounding rocket experiments. The vehicle charging due to dc beam emission up to 80 mA in the altitude range from 150 to 200 km was repeatedly measured by both Langmuir and floating probes, and was found to be usually less than 10 V. In addition, during the 80-mA emission, clear evidence for the ignition of a beam-plasma discharge was obtained by the plasma probe, photometers, and wave receivers. In the tether deployment experiment, it was found that the tether wire acted as an antenna and its antenna impedance decreased with the extension of the wire both in high-frequency and very low-frequency bands. Finally, substantial rocket charging (to greater than 100 V) was observed during periods of electron beam very low-frequency pulsing.
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