NASA Media Briefing Set to Discuss Midair Capture of Genesis Spacecraft

Press Release From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

image A news briefing about the upcoming midair capture of the Genesis space capsule will be held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, Aug. 19.

Helicopter flight crews, navigators and mission engineers continue to prepare for the Sept. 8 return of the Genesis spacecraft -- NASA's first sample return mission since Apollo 17 brought back the last moon rocks in 1972. On Sept. 8, the Genesis spacecraft will deploy its sample return capsule that will then re-enter Earth's atmosphere. Waiting below will be two helicopters and their flight crews ready to make a spectacular midair capture at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range.

Specially trained helicopter pilots -- who are moonlighting from their jobs as Hollywood stunt pilots -- will snag the sample return capsule from midair using the Space-Age equivalent of a fisherman's rod and reel. The midair capture event will be carried live on NASA TV.

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

Panelists include:

  • Dr. Charles Elachi, director of JPL
  • Dr. David Lindstrom, Genesis program scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Dr. Don Burnett, Genesis principal investigator, California Institute of Technology,
  • Pasadena, Calif.
  • Don Sweetnam, Genesis Project Manager, JPL
  • Roy Haggard, midair retrieval operations chief, Vertigo Incorporated, Lake Elsinore, Calif.
  • Dan Rudert, capture helicopter pilot, South Coast Helicopter, Santa Ana, Calif.

The news conference will be carried live on NASA Television, with two-way question-and-answer capability from participating NASA centers. It will be webcast live at:

NASA Television is available on AMC-6, transponder 9-C, located at 72 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz. Reporters who would like to listen to events' audio should call: 818/354-6666. Additional listen-only service is available by calling: 321/867-1220/1240/1260.

For more information about Genesis on the Internet, visit:

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