STARDUST Status Report
January 15, 1999
STARDUST Project Manager
Well the time is getting short. The final preparations
are moving along on the spacecraft. This week the Solar Array
Illumination and continuity check (to ensure light is being turned into
electricity and current is on all the lines) was completed and solar
array fold and close-out for flight initiated. Also, Multi-layer
Insulation (MLI) (thermal control stuff) closeout continued while the
solar arrays were open. The pre-fueling propulsion testing was
initiated with thruster functionals completed, tank pressurized, and
thruster and service valve leak checks completed. We are on track to load
propellant on the spacecraft Monday.
Launch Operations team members performed a "walkdown"
of the SLC-17A launch pad "white room" in preparation for the future move
of the spacecraft to the pad and final pad operations. The white room is
at the top of the gantry and is where technicians will hook up the
spacecraft with the umbilical cord to carry signals to our team during
the countdown. After all is in order the nose-cone fairings for the
Delta will be closed up around STARDUST to protect it until it is in
The Mission and Science News Press Briefing was held at NASA Headquarters
on Wednesday. The event was carried live on NASA TV and generated excellent
press interest. I hope a number of you got to see it. A number of stories ran
this week with more to come. Our Principal Investigator,
Don Brownlee, showed where the small silicon chip with so many of your
names etched is mounted. So for you "the crew" you are about to begin
your journey to the launch pad. We plan to mate the spacecraft with the
rocket's upper stage on January 25th and move out to the pad on the 28th.
Right now it's "All systems GO!!"
For more information on the STARDUST mission - the first ever comet sample
return mission - please visit the STARDUST home page: