Status Report

Trajectory Maneuver Brings NASA Genesis Spacecraft Closer to Home

By SpaceRef Editor
August 11, 2004
Filed under , ,
Trajectory Maneuver Brings NASA Genesis Spacecraft Closer to Home

Thirty days before its historic return to Earth with NASA’s first
samples from space since the Apollo missions, the Genesis spacecraft
successfully completed its twentieth trajectory maneuver.

At 12:00 Universal Time (5:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time), Mon.,
August 9, Genesis fired its 90 gram (.2 pound) thrusters for a grand
total of 50 minutes, changing the solar sampler’s speed by 1.4 meters
per second (about 3.1 miles per hour). The maneuver required half a
kilogram (1.1 pounds) of hydrazine monopropellant to complete.

“It was a textbook maneuver,” said Ed Hirst, Genesis’s mission manager
at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “After sifting
through all the post-burn data, I expect we will find ourselves right
on the money.”

The Genesis mission was launched in August of 2001 on a journey to
capture samples from the storehouse of 99 percent of all the material
in our solar system — the Sun. The samples of solar wind particles,
collected on ultra-pure wafers of gold, sapphire, silicon and diamond,
will be returned for analysis by Earth-bound scientists. The samples
Genesis provides will supply scientists with vital information on the
composition of the Sun, and will shed light on the origins of our
solar system.

Helicopter flight crews, navigators and mission engineers continue to
prepare for the return of the Genesis spacecraft on September 8. On
that date, Genesis will dispatch a sample return capsule that will
re-enter Earth’s atmosphere for a planned mid-air capture at the U.S.
Air Force Utah Test and Training Range. To preserve the delicate
particles of the Sun in their prisons of silicon, gold, sapphire and
diamond, specially trained helicopter pilots will snag the return
capsule from mid-air using the space-age equivalent of a fisherman’s
rod and reel. The flight crews for the two helicopters assigned for
Genesis capture and return are comprised of former military aviators
and Hollywood stunt pilots.

JPL manages the Genesis mission for NASA’s Space Mission Directorate,
Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and
operates the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute
of Technology, the home institute of Genesis’s principal investigator
Dr. Don Burnett.

More information about Genesis is available at .

More information about the
actual capture and return process is available at .

SpaceRef staff editor.