For Sale: Two Satellites, Lightly Used

Illustration for article titled For Sale: Two Satellites, Lightly Used

Astronaut Dale Gardner was all for making a quick buck by reselling a pair of stray satellites he rescued from orbit, but the insurance companies insisted he returned them to Earth first.

Astronauts Dale A. Gardner and Joseph P. Allen IV (visible in visor reflection) were sent out on a second extravehicular activity (EVA) in just three days to retrieve a pair of satellites that didn’t successfully reach orbit . The Palapa B2 and Westar 6 were released from a space shuttle in February 1984, but after their Payload Assist Modules failed to fire and boost them into orbit they were retrieved in November of that year. Corners of each satellite are visible in the lower right corner of the photograph, with Westar 6 farther aft.

I know, I know: This looks like a meme just waiting to be debunked, but this is a real photograph from a real spacewalk. The creative classified ad was appropriate: after being returned to Earth for refurbishment, both satelites were resold by their insurance companies and relaunched in April 1990. Westar 6 was sold to Pan Am Pacific Satellite Corp., then resold to Asia Satellite as AsiaSat 1. Palapa B2 was resold to Perumtel and renamed as Palapa B2R.


Gardner died of a brain aneurysm in 2014.

Image credit: NASA

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The launch cost of that sign must have been a couple hundred dollars.

A sheet of paper is about 0.0045, times $18,000 dollars a kilogram, the sheet of paper is just $81, but it looks laminated and has a tether.