NASA Practices Satellite Flyby of Asteroid

Practice makes perfect, or so the thinking goes at mission control for the Stardust spacecraft. The satellite, launched in 1999 to collect samples from a comet, planned to run through a full dress rehearsal today in preparation for its one-shot encounter 14 months from now.

“As we know from vast experience, spacecraft do not necessarily respond exactly as predicted the first time we try things,” said Thomas Duxbury, project manager for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.