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STARDUST Status Report

June 12, 1998

Ken Atkins
STARDUST Project Manager

Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) activities: This week marks the first full-fledged test of the flight system's components all working together. The Stardust Team completed part I of what we are calling System Performance Test (SPT) #1. In part I we aimed at testing the spacecraft's reception of command sequences and its proper, correct response during the launch phase of the mission. This test included the command sequencing and data responses for lift-off, separation from the launch vehicle, de-spin after separation from the launch rocket, deployment of solar arrays and the proper attitude control functioning. It's great to report the test was very successful and completed in less time than scheduled. We will now be engaged in making some changes and reconfiguring for part II of this very important test series.

As you've noticed, if you've been following the action through our TV Cam in the environmentally-controlled clean room, we have re-opened the spacecraft to permit the reinstallation of the flight Command & Data Handling (C&DH) unit and the Power Control Assembly (PCA). These key units have been getting some rework done on electronics while their nearly-identical "understudies" have been on the spacecraft. STARDUST will be in this state for about two weeks as C&DH and PCA complete some retesting and are installed. Then part II of the System Performance Test will be done.

STARDUST team members participated in another planning session with the launch vehicle folks at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. These meetings are crucial to ensuring a smooth flow of activity next fall when we take STARDUST to the Cape to meet its Boeing Delta rocket. As familiarization and training.for that exciting time, the team participated in the successful launch of a Norwegian communication satellite aboard a Delta.

More than 220,000 names have been collected so far for the second microchip. In case you're wondering, the names will be electronically etched onto a fingernail-size silicon chip at JPL's Microdevices Laboratory. Writing on the microchip is so small that about 80 letters would equal the width of a human hair. Once inscribed, the names can be read only with the aid of an electron microscope. We hope to exhibit the names in a major museum after the comet sample returns to Earth.

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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