Lockheed Martin-Built Genesis Spacecraft Successfully Placed in Orbit
DENVER, CO, 16-NOV-01 -- The Genesis spacecraft, designed and built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems - Astronautics Operations for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was successfully placed in orbit today around the L1 point between the Earth and the Sun. Now that Genesis is in orbit, a series of checkout procedures will be performed during the next two weeks. In early December, Genesis will begin its mission to collect pieces of the Sun and return them to Earth in September 2004 to help scientists learn more about materials from which the Earth and all other planets and other solar system objects, such as asteroids, moons and meteorites, were formed. Since the launch of Genesis from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug. 8, 2001, a team of engineers and navigators from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, headquartered near Denver, Colo., and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, based in Pasadena, Calif., has guided Genesis safely through space to the L1 point between the Earth and Sun, approximately one million miles from Earth. The L1 point is a place in space where the gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun on an object is approximately equal.
Using onboard commands that the flight team had already sent to the spacecraft from Lockheed Martin's Mission Support Area (MSA) near Denver, Colo., Genesis fired its main engine for four minutes, 27 seconds to successfully perform the Lissajous Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver today just past noon mountain time.
We're thrilled with how well Genesis has performed during its flight in space, and now that it is in orbit, we are looking forward to the incredible science that the spacecraft will begin to obtain in a few days and throughout its two-year science phase of the mission, said G. Thomas Marsh, president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Space Systems - Astronautics Operations. Based on the telemetry data we have received, the spacecraft is in good health, the science canister is functioning well, and we are very pleased to have another important mission underway with NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
During its mission, Genesis will collect solar material by exposing its collector arrays at designated intervals and collecting samples of solar wind particles, which constantly spew out, from the Sun. Then, in September 2004, the Genesis sample return capsule containing the collector arrays with the solar material safely stored inside will return to Earth. The sample return capsule - descending carefully below a parafoil - will be retrieved in mid-air by helicopter and the sample collectors placed in the care of Genesis scientists for analysis.
Genesis' spaceflight operations are controlled jointly by a team of engineers at Lockheed Martin's Mission Support Area (MSA) near Denver with a team at JPL in Pasadena. Commands for each maneuver are transmitted ahead of time from the MSA to the spacecraft. The flight and navigation team currently operates four NASA spacecraft in space: the Mars Global Surveyor, Stardust, Genesis and the 2001 Mars Odyssey.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, Colo., is one of the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a variety of advanced technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include a full-range of space launch systems, ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.