PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Mary Beth Murrill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 25, 1996
ASSEMBLY COMPLETED ON LARGEST U.S. PLANETARY SPACECRAFT EVER
Engineers and technicians have completed assembling the
major components of the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to create
the three-story-tall robotic space explorer.
Scheduled for launch a year from now from Cape Canaveral,
Florida, Cassini is the largest and most sophisticated U.S.
spacecraft ever built to explore a planet. In about two weeks,
Cassini will be moved to JPL test facilities where the spacecraft
will be subjected to acoustic, vibration, thermal and other tests
in preparation for its upcoming launch and spaceflight.
The sheer size and technical complexity of the spacecraft is
drawing crowds of employees and guests to view Cassini through
the glass walls of the clean room at JPL's spacecraft assembly
"Employees who've worked on planning the mission are excited
to finally see the fruits of their labors," said Cassini Program
Manager Richard J. Spehalski. "With all the major components put
together, Cassini now actually looks like a spacecraft that's
going to another planet. People seeing it for the first time are
saying 'Holy smokes!'"
Scheduled for launch on October 6, 1997, Cassini will be the
best-instrumented probe ever sent from Earth to another planet.
When it arrives at Saturn in 2004, Cassini will explore the
Saturn system in detail over four years in orbit, and drop a
parachuted probe called Huygens to study the atmosphere and
surface of Saturn's biggest moon, Titan. Titan is thought to
have an environment similar to Earth's before life began.
Cassini is a joint mission of the NASA, the European Space
Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The mission represents the
contributions of thousands of people at contractor companies,
universities and government facilites across the United States
and in 16 European nations. The Cassini program is managed by
JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science. The Cassini home page is
EDITORS: Video B-roll and still photos are available to support
this release through the JPL Public Information Office at (818)