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STARDUST Status Report

December 5, 1997

Ken Atkins
STARDUST Project Manager

  • A decision was made to proceed with the design and production of a thermal-mass simulator for the Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA). This is necessary to mitigate the risk that Germany's developers might not make the required delivery date for Assembly, Test and Launch Operations (ATLO) installation. The current delivery of the flight unit is just-in-time AFTER all the margin in the ATLO schedule has been exploited in the recent re-flow of the assembly process to provide as much schedule relief as possible to the CIDA developers. The current ATLO-need date (March 23) is the date the ATLO "train" leaves the CIDA station. If the flight unit is not there on time, the project will be forced to fly the simulator and descope the CIDA science.

  • Aerogel : The detailed schedule was completed this week for qualification and quality control processes. The plan supports delivery of the qual unit by Jan 5 and production of the ATLO "protoflight" tray by March 2. Flight tray delivery is still set for July. ATLO-need is October 1.

  • The deadline for the "Send Your Name To A Comet" passed on November 30. It will take about 2 weeks to prepare the chip before names are begun to be "burned" onto it. Unfortunately, a cut-off date had to be imposed in order to allow time to prepare the chip and to deliver it to the ATLO process for installation in the Sample Return Capsule.

  • The STARDUST Web Site experienced a peak of 82,863 hits on November 26, setting a new STARDUST record. The site has been averaging 33,000 hits/day for the week. New images of flight hardware and facilities are being posted weekly to keep the site-interest high.

  • A letter from Fred Whipple, developer of the multi-shock shield concept for protecting the spacecraft during hypervelocity encounters was received to be placed on the microchip that will fly round trip to the Comet. This along with a letter received from Paul Wild are available elsewhere on the Web Site.

  • A STARDUST overview and progress presentation was made as part of this week's 1997 American Astronautical Society's meeting in Pasadena. Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, Chairman of the House Science Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, provided a congressional viewpoint of NASA's programs at a conference luncheon. A number of NASA leaders participated in the conference including Dr. Wes Huntress, Associate Administrator for Space Science.

For more information on the STARDUST mission - the first ever comet sample return mission - please visit the STARDUST home page:

Last Updated: November 26, 2003
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