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Helicopter Stunt Pilots to Snag Stardust for NASA

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zavvy

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<b>Helicopter Stunt Pilots to Snag Stardust for NASA</b><br /><br /><i>By Gina Keating</i><br /><br />LINK<br /><br />PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) - NASA has recruited two Hollywood helicopter stunt pilots for an especially tricky maneuver -- snagging a capsule full of stardust as it parachutes back to Earth next month, mission managers said on Thursday.<br /><br />The mid-air retrieval 4,000 feet above the Utah desert on Sept. 8 is the planned climax to the space agency's $264 million Genesis mission, which began three years ago with the launch of a space probe to collect tiny charged particles called ions blown toward Earth from the sun.<br /><br />Scientists say the resulting cargo of solar ions, about 10 to 20 micrograms of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements that collectively weigh about as much as a few grains of salt, will yield key insights about the formation of planets at the dawn of the solar system.<br /><br />The novel scheme for snaring the re-entry capsule, thus sparing the canister from a rocky landing that could damage the delicate instruments and samples inside, was unveiled for reporters on Thursday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.<br /><br />The return of the Genesis probe will mark the first bits of extraterrestrial matter retrieved from space by human means since the 1970s, when moon rocks were carried back to Earth by manned U.S. Apollo and unmanned Soviet Luna missions, NASA said.<br /><br />If successful, it also will make aviation history as the first man-made object captured by aircraft as it entered Earth's atmosphere from space, said Roy Haggard, an aerospace research executive hired by NASA to design the Genesis retrieval project.<br /><br />He said helicopters were used in thousands of missions to grab parachuted canisters of film shot by spy cameras over Vietnam and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.<br /><br />But
 
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omegamogo

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Yay! First ever samples from an extraterrestrial object other then the moon. I'm quite exited (and worried) for this mission.
 
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zavvy

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I hope they manage to pull it off without incident.. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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omegamogo

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Well it would be very embarrassing if the rope suddenly snaps! <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" />
 
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zavvy

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<font color="yellow">Well it would be very embarrassing if the rope suddenly snaps!</font><br /><br />I'll say... <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" />
 
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omegamogo

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But wouldn't it be easer if they tried catching it with a large net stretched between 4 helicopters?
 
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zavvy

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<font color="yellow">But wouldn't it be easer if they tried catching it with a large net stretched between 4 helicopters? </font><br /><br />I wonder if they've thought of that...?? <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" />
 
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omegamogo

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Maybe they were afraid it would hit the blades? That would be very unprofessional!
 
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CalliArcale

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I have a bit of a problem with the article's title, actually. It confused me, because there is a sample-return mission called Stardust! And its capsule will not be retrieved in this manner. Stardust's sample canister is considerably less fragile and so it can tolerate a gentle impact with the earth.<br /><br />Silly journalist. <img src="/images/icons/tongue.gif" /> Ms Keating probably didn't realize that there's another sample-return mission on right now. Stardust actually launched before Genesis, but will not return to earth with its samples of cometary debris and interstellar dust until 2006. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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zavvy

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<font color="yellow">I have a bit of a problem with the article's title, actually. It confused me</font><br /><br />A simple perusal of the entire article would allay any feelings of confusion. I don't think it was incorrect of her to refer to the sample as 'stardust', and she does mention that it's from the Genesis mission... <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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flynn

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Heres an artical from a British film magazine. Gives a bit more background on the pilots <br /><br />Spacedust Memories<br /><br />NASA goes Hollywood for retrieval mission<br />20 August 2004 <br />We've had Hollywood telling us stories of real life heroes trying to fly into space, of real life men in space trying to land back on earth, and of fictional working class guys going into space to save the earth. Now, in a case of life almost-imitating-art-imitating-life, NASA has recruited two Hollywood stunt pilots for to help them out on a real life mission. We can hear a thousand Hollywood laptops being fired up as we speak, coffee machines being turned on, script meeting rooms being booked.<br /><br />On 8 September, the space programme's $264 million Genesis mission is expected to reach its climax when a capsule of stardust re-enters our atmosphere. According to scientists, it will provide key insights on the formation of the planets at the dawn of the solar system (good, noble cause – we like that – no bad guys, very PG-13 friendly).<br /><br />The plan is for the two flyboys to catch the canister in mid air as it parachutes back to our surface. (Talk about a money shot! Book John Williams for the score right now!)<br /><br />The man chosen as chief pilot is one Cliff Fleming, and his back up will be Dan Rudert (that's good, we can use that name, got a masculine feel to it, like Harry Stamper, or Cameron Poe), who were both stunt pilots on xXx, We Were Soldiers, and Swordfish, among others. Rudert in particular provided fancy flywork for S.W.A.T. and The Hulk, both notable for their impressive helicopter sequences.<br /><br />The retrieval is set to take place over the Utah desert. The two retrieval helicopters will hover a short distance from the target area, tracking the target on radar. Once the capsule's parachute is deployed, it should fall to earth at about 32km/h (Too slow, lose the parachute. And have one of the helicopters catch fire). Once this happens, Mr Fleming's t <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#800080">"All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring" - <strong>Chuck Palahniuk</strong>.</font> </div>
 
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bobw

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flynn wrote: "Once retrieved, it will be taken to a nearby Army field and placed in an isolation chamber (and – you're gonna love this – guess what's inside?…)"<br /><br /><br />I hope it is something that will take care of the world's growing problem with used tires.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"The man chosen as chief pilot is one Cliff Fleming, and his back up will be Dan Rudert (that's good, we can use that name, got a masculine feel to it, like Harry Stamper, or Cameron Poe), who were both stunt pilots on xXx, We Were Soldiers, and Swordfish, among others. Rudert in particular provided fancy flywork for S.W.A.T. and The Hulk, both notable for their impressive helicopter sequences. "</font><br /><br />So... in the movie version, will Cliff and Dan play themselves -- or will an actor play their parts?<br /><br />If they play themselves -- will they do their own stunts?<br /><br />If actors *do* play Cliff and Dan's parts -- will they be the stunt doubles to stand in for the actors standing in for them?<br /><br />Things that make you go 'Hmmm'
 
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SpaceKiwi

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Hehehehe, bravo mrmorris. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em><font size="2" color="#ff0000">Who is this superhero?  Henry, the mild-mannered janitor ... could be!</font></em></p><p><em><font size="2">-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------</font></em></p><p><font size="5">Bring Back The Black!</font></p> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>A simple perusal of the entire article would allay any feelings of confusion. I don't think it was incorrect of her to refer to the sample as 'stardust', and she does mention that it's from the Genesis mission...<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />I was being tongue-in-cheek, hence the <img src="/images/icons/tongue.gif" /> emoticon.<br /><br />Actually, I'm very excited about both Genesis and Stardust. It's long past time for another sample return mission! <img src="/images/icons/cool.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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rboblee

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"... fire."<br /><p><br />Oh... "Wildfire." <br /><p><br />It does appear that the mission programmers read "The Andromeda Strain" by Michael Crichton. <br /><p><br />The choice of Michael Army Airfield on the US Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah to receive the Genesis payload should reassure SF fans that someone in the US space bureaucracy had their thinking caps on. Leastwise, they are not using Johnson Space Center, which is located in heavily populated Houston, as the initial receiving site.<br /><p><br />On the other hand, sometimes the military-industrial complex fails to appreciate the complete message behind a work of fiction, and goes ahead and does something anyway, because there is no progress without challenging the unknown.<br /><p><br />It is known that pollens, bacteria spores, and viruses regularly get caught up by the solar wind and blown from the upper atmosphere into space. Irradiation by the solar wind and cosmic rays could result in genetic mutations that could be returned to earth, with nearly 99% of the mutations being fatal to the original organism. <br /><p><br />As we observe on earth, ionized particles can form a suspension, so a low density organic cloud could be in near solar orbit, and Genesis could be returning dormant samples from that cloud, having spent its mission life charting it.<br /><p><br />So there is a very, very, low probability of Genesis bringing back organic infectious agents on its capture wafers.<br /><p><br />Hence, Genesis is being received by the P5 level biohazard containment laboratory at Dugway.<br /><p><br />Out here in Hollywood, with a season full of remakes coming in 2005 and 2006, this NASA JPL version of "The Andromeda Strain" is being done with reality TV techniques with the best mission directors on the planet.<br /><p><br />The fictional "Piedmont, NM" need not worry. On the other hand, the sheep and cattle ranchers downwind of Dugway might decide to stay indoors on September 8th. With plastic sheet sealed windows.<br></br></p></p></p></p></p></p></p></p></p></p>
 
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igorsboss

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Whew! I was wondering if anyone was going to pick up on that one!<img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />The Genesis mission sounds just like "scoop" to me. To this day, my favorite error code remains 601 (too much information coming in too fast.)
 
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flynn

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3614806.stm<br /><br />Click link to updated BBC story.<br /><br />Story includes cool pic of Genesis, 1 week away taken from the 2.24m telescope at Mauna Kea in Hawaii<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#800080">"All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring" - <strong>Chuck Palahniuk</strong>.</font> </div>
 
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flynn

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okay so what word is the profanity filter not liking? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#800080">"All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring" - <strong>Chuck Palahniuk</strong>.</font> </div>
 
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najab

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It doesn't like the letters S R C since they can be used in HTML tags to link directly to images.
 
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backspace

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I thought perchance it might have more of an issue with the Air Force's interesting flying lab's name..<br /><br /><img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />Doesn't anyone LOOK at some of these?
 
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