Cassini Program Assesses New Launch Timeframe

September 4, 1997

KSC Contact: George H. Diller

KSC Release No. 152-97

NASA managers today reached a consensus that mid-October is an achievable timeframe for the Cassini spacecraft to be ready for its launch to Saturn.

"We're not going to ask the Air Force for an actual launch date to target until after the Huygens probe has been disassembled and we have been able to fully evaluate the work that needs to be done," said Richard Spehalski, Cassini Program Manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "At least a full week of work will be necessary once Huygens has been demated from Cassini."

A decision was made on Sept. 3 to remove the spacecraft from the Air Force Titan IV rocket and return it to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at KSC. Damage to thermal insulation was discovered inside the Huygens probe from a higher than appropriate flow rate of conditioned air. Further internal inspections, insulation repair and a cleaning of the probe are now required.

Additional information about Cassini-Huygens is online at

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.

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