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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- The STARDUST spacecraft is launched on a Delta II rocket from Launch Pad 17-A, Cape Canaveral Station on February 7, 1999 at 4:04:15 p.m. EST. A 24-hour scrub postponed the launch from the originally scheduled date of Feb. 6. Stardust is destined for a close encounter with the comet Wild 2 in January 2004. Using a silicon-based substance called aerogel, Stardust will capture comet particles flying off the nucleus of the comet. The spacecraft also will bring back samples of interstellar dust. These materials consist of ancient pre-solar interstellar grains and other remnants left over from the formation of the solar system. Scientists expect their analysis to provide important insights into the evolution of the sun and planets and possibly into the origin of life itself. The collected samples will return to Earth in a sample return capsule to be jettisoned as Stardust swings by Earth in January 2006.