From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Wednesday, April 7, 2004
Hollywood stunt pilots are working with NASA's Genesis mission to capture the first samples returned from space since Apollo 17 returned Moon rocks in 1972. A media event surrounding the flight training of the Genesis helicopter crew will take place April 15 at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz. Media are invited to watch the training and interview pilots and Genesis mission team members.
The pilots and engineers are preparing for the return of NASA's Genesis spacecraft, which is en route back to Earth after capturing particles of the solar wind. The spacecraft will dispatch a sample return capsule that will re-enter Earth's atmosphere for a planned landing at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range in September. To preserve the delicate particles of the Sun, specially trained helicopter pilots will snag the return capsule from mid-air using giant hooks. The flight crews for the two helicopters assigned for Genesis capture and return are comprised of former military aviators, Hollywood stunt pilots, and an active duty Air Force test pilot.
Media must arrive at a rendezvous point just off the Yuma Proving Ground facility no later than 6:15 a.m. (local time). They will caravan onto the Yuma facility where they will witness a Genesis pre-test flight briefing; watch the helicopter crew do its pre-flight and launch; go onto the range to watch first-hand as the Genesis helicopter team practices grabbing the space sample return capsule in mid-air; and return to the air field for a post-mission debriefing.
NASA's Genesis mission was launched in August of 2001 to capture samples from the storehouse of 99 percent of all the material in our solar system - the Sun. These samples, collected on wafers of gold, sapphire, silicone and diamond, will be returned for analysis by Earth-bound scientists. The samples Genesis will provide will supply scientists with the composition of the Sun as well as shed light on the origins of our solar system.
More information about Genesis is available at: http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov/. More information about the actual capture and return process is available at: http://www.genesismission.org/mission/recgallery.html.
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