July 17, 1998
Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) activities: The Lockheed Marting Team completed the move to the Multiple Test Facility (MTF) on schedule -- 7/11!! This move allowed weighing the spacecraft for the first time. The mass comes in at only 0.1 Kg over the "current best estimate" we have been carrying. The list of "best estimates" has been used over the life of the project to collect the detailed masses of everything (and I do mean everything) to be sure the spacecraft will fit within the launch rocket's boost capability. We have always worked hard to keep the ship as light as possible. But a table of the individual components can only be validated by actually "getting on the scale." So to have a very, very close match on this is just terrific. This is a significant accomplishment and puts the mass margin (what the Delta rocket can launch minus what Stardust weighs) in very good shape. Spin testing was successfully accomplished also this week showing that the ship will be as smooth as a top and without wobble when we separate from the rockets above the Earth's atmosphere. We want a "ballerina" up there when the move to the trajectory away from the Earth occurs.
The Website Camera was moved along with the spacecraft and was off the air for a short time. Now when you are seeing the spacecraft, it is "rotated" to a 90 degree position which is consistent with the environmental tests to come. So you see the pink protective cover for the sample return capsules high-speed heat shield in the foreground. That cover will be removed for flight.
more information on the STARDUST mission - the first ever comet sample
mission - please visit the STARDUST home page: http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov