M.I.T.'s 350 million copper needles are lost in space. Scientists cannot even as-certain if the one-half inch wires sent aloft to relay radio signals were ejected from their orbiting container, according to George R. Huguenin, senior engineer for the Space Radio Project.
Seventy-five pounds of the copper filaments soared aloft aboard a Midas IV satellite two weeks ago, in an experiment conducted by M.I.T.'s Lincoln Laboratory. Anticipating that the copper hairs would form a belt encircling the globe, the scientists hoped that this belt would act as a huge antenna, reflecting radio signals back to earth.
Both the International Astronomical Union and International Scientific Radio Union protested the project before the launching. However, the hairs were orbited after President Kennedy's Science Advisory committee reported that the band of "needles" would not interfere with astronomical observations.
To date, the copper hairs have not disturbed the astronomers. "Even the boys at Lincoln Lab, who are looking for them, can't find them," observed Huguenin.