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STARDUST Status Report

January 30, 1998

Ken Atkins
STARDUST Project Manager

We have completed all steps to conduct the Structural Thermal Model (STM) Sample Return Capsule (SRC) Aerial Drop Test. The test unit was checked out end-to-end, packaged and shipped with support equipment to the Utah Test & Training Range near Salt Lake City. We will be ready to test Tuesday during the 7:00 to 10:00 am window, weather permitting (5 day forecast indicates snow!). Remember, this is to drop the capsule from a balloon at 10, 000 feet.

The Flight computer and data system has been installed on the spacecraft for Electrical Power and Continuity (EP&C) testing. This is to make sure the wiring is ok and the nerve system and brain is ready to begin work with all the units as they become installed. Note: ATLO means the Assembly, Test and Launch Operations phase of the project. This is where the flight system comes together as a unit. All interfaces are mated and tested as the project prepares for the shipment next November to Cape Canaveral for launch.

All three Low Gain Antennas (LGA's) were mounted on the spacecraft in the high bay. The Medium Gain Antenna thermal and performance tests were completed and the antenna delivered to ATLO.

The propulsion subsystem was delivered to ATLO.

The star camera flight units are now proceeding on schedule to deliver 3/13.This represents recovery of a long-term top issue and will be a very welcome milestone completion. Note: The star cameras take pictures of the star background and these are used by the spacecraft to keep its balance in space where there is no "up" or "down"!

5 of 6 NavCam flight power supplies have been delivered. This represents significant progress in getting the flight build back on schedule for Marchdelivery. Note: the navigation camera is the camera with a telescope to pick out the comet nucleus as early as possible so the navigators can target the spacecraft for the right flyby distance to catch the particles. The Navcam is also what captures the pictures we will see back here on Earth.

Project completed review of the launch vehicle mission plan to meet the Stardust mission launch requirements for next February's blast off. This includes timeline of events from lift-off through Stardust's separation from the rocket and arrival on the trajectory to the comet.

Project also completed a review of the flight commands for collector deploy/stow, image sequencing (picture taking) of the comet and the timeline of the events at encounter.

We think we're almost ready to begin sending pictures from the high bay of the spacecraft as it is being assembled. One more check off meeting is scheduled for next week. So stay tuned!!!

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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