Cassini Program Status Report
August 1, 1996
The Cassini team last week took delivery of the spacecraft's flight propulsion module subsystem from Lockheed Martin Astrospace in Denver, Colorado.
At JPL, the spacecraft is moving toward completion of assembly in preparation for testing in the space-like environment of JPL's thermal vacuum chamber this September. All of the instrument flight models are scheduled to be installed on the spacecraft for the tests.
The Huygens Titan probe, provided by the European Space Agency, is nearing completion and final testing in Europe. It will be delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center next year where it will be mated with the Cassini spacecraft. The probe has completed important thermal, shock and vibration testing.
Cassini's high gain antenna, supplied by the Italian space agency, successfully passed acoustic testing.
At JPL, patterns are being made for thermal blanketing that will protect the spacecraft on its interplanetary journey. The "Trailblazer" mockup of Cassini is serving as a mannequin to size the spacecraft for blanketing.
Cassini's assembly, test, launch and operations element has received major software deliveries for the spacecraft's attitude and articulation control subsystem. Software for controlling trajectory correction maneuvers was tested on the flight software development system.
The 14th Cassini project science group meeting was held at Caltech during the last week of July. An agreement was made to pursue a Saturn tour design having roughly 40 Titan and five icy satellite close flybys, but with an optional tour change point about a year after Cassini enters orbit around Saturn that would allow either more or fewer encounters depending upon the status of available propellant and other operational considerations.
Additional information about Cassini-Huygens is online at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Cassini will begin orbiting Saturn on July 1, 2004, and release its piggybacked Huygens probe about six months later for descent through the thick atmosphere of the moon Titan. Cassini-Huygens is a cooperative mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.