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DC Agle 818-393-9011
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
William P. Jeffs 281-483-5111
NEWS RELEASE: 2008-181 Sept. 25, 2008
NASA Stardust Capsule to go on Display at Smithsonian
Stardust, comprising a spacecraft and capsule, completed a seven-year, 4.8-billion-kilometer (3-billion-mile) journey in 2006. A tennis racket-like, aerogel-lined collector was extended to capture particles as the spacecraft flew within 241 kilometers (150 miles) of comet Wild 2 in January 2004. Carrying the collected particles, the capsule returned to Earth Jan. 15, 2006, landing in
"Very few people get to build something, launch it into space, see it be successful and then get it back in their hands," said Karen McNamara, Johnson recovery lead for the Stardust mission. "To be able to share this with the public is phenomenal."
The capsule joins the Wright brothers' 1903 Flyer, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and the Apollo 11 command module
"The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and
Hardware provided to the Smithsonian includes actual flight components. Elements relevant to the science goals of the mission remain with NASA.
After successfully completing its mission, Stardust will use its flight-proven hardware to perform a new, previously unplanned investigation. The mission, called Stardust-NExT, will revisit comet 9P/Tempel 1. This investigation will provide the first look at the changes to a comet nucleus produced after a close approach to the sun. It will also mark the first time a comet has ever been revisited.
"Usually, when a piece of your spacecraft goes into the Smithsonian, that means the mission's over," said Stardust-NExT project manager Rick Grammier, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "But the Stardust spacecraft is still doing the job for NASA and in February 2011, it will fly within 193 kilometers (120 miles) of the comet."
Stardust is a low-cost, Discovery Program mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. JPL manages the project. Joseph Veverka of
For information about the Stardust mission on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/stardust .
Images of the Stardust capsule being prepared for shipment can be found at: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/home/stardust.html .
NASA Television will air video file material to illustrate this story. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv .
JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in