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STARDUST Status Report

January 15, 1999


Ken Atkins
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 space.

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:

Last Updated: November 26, 2003
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