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The first stage of a Boeing Delta II rocket is lifted to its vertical position on the tower at Launch Complex 17, Cape Canaveral Air Station. The rocket will carry the Stardust spacecraft into space for a close encounter with the comet Wild 2 in January 2004. Using a medium called aerogel, it will capture comet particles flying off the nucleus of the comet, plus collect interstellar dust for later analysis. The collected samples will return to Earth in a Sample Return Capsule to be jettisoned as Stardust swings by Earth in January 2006. Stardust is scheduled to be launched on Feb. 6, 1999

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The first stage of a Boeing Delta II rocket is raised off a truck bed before being lifted into place on the tower at Launch Complex 17, Cape Canaveral Air Station. The rocket will carry the Stardust spacecraft into space for a close encounter with the comet Wild 2 in January 2004. Using a medium called aerogel, it will capture comet particles flying off the nucleus of the comet, plus collect interstellar dust for later analysis. The collected samples will return to Earth in a Sample Return Capsule to be jettisoned as Stardust swings by Earth in January 2006. Stardust is scheduled to be launched on Feb. 6, 1999

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — At Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, workers watch as the two halves of the fairing move closer together, encircling the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR). The fairing is the outer cover that protects the spacecraft during launch. Below the spacecraft is the Delta II rocket, the launch vehicle. CONTOUR will provide the first detailed look into the heart of a comet — the nucleus. Flying as close as 60 miles (100 kilometers) to at least two comets, the spacecraft will take the sharpest pictures yet of a nucleus while analyzing the gas and dust that surround them. Launch of CONTOUR is scheduled for July 1, 2002

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. – The antenna on top of the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft is seen after removal of the container that surrounded it during transfer from KSC. CONTOUR will provide the first detailed look into the heart of a comet — the nucleus. Flying as close as 60 miles (100 kilometers) to at least two comets, the spacecraft will take the sharpest pictures yet of a nucleus while analyzing the gas and dust that surround these rocky, icy building blocks of the solar system. Launch of CONTOUR aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket is scheduled for July 1, 2002

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — On the launch tower at Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a technician makes a connection of the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft (above) to the Boeing Delta II rocket (below). CONTOUR will provide the first detailed look into the heart of a comet — the nucleus. Flying as close as 60 miles (100 kilometers) to at least two comets, the spacecraft will take the sharpest pictures yet of a nucleus while analyzing the gas and dust that surround these rocky, icy building blocks of the solar system. Launch of CONTOUR is scheduled for July 1, 2002

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — On Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft moves inside the gantry where it will be encapsulated and mated with the launch vehicle. CONTOUR will provide the first detailed look into the heart of a comet — the nucleus. Flying as close as 60 miles (100 kilometers) to at least two comets, the spacecraft will take the sharpest pictures yet of a nucleus while analyzing the gas and dust that surround these rocky, icy building blocks of the solar system. Launch of CONTOUR aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket is scheduled for July 1, 2002

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — In the Space Assembly and Encapsulation Facility 2 (SAEF-2), a container is lifted above the floor and moved toward the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft in front. CONTOUR will be enclosed in the container for transfer to the launch pad. CONTOUR will provide the first detailed look into the heart of a comet — the nucleus. Flying as close as 60 miles (100 kilometers) to at least two comets, the spacecraft will take the sharpest pictures yet of a nucleus while analyzing the gas and dust that surround these rocky, icy building blocks of the solar system. Launch of CONTOUR aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket is scheduled for July 1, 2002, from Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. – In the Space Assembly and Encapsulation Facility 2 (SAEF-2), the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft (top) is moved toward the upper stage of a Boeing Delta II rocket. The two will be mated for launch. CONTOUR will provide the first detailed look into the heart of a comet — the nucleus. Flying as close as 60 miles (100 kilometers) to at least two comets, the spacecraft will take the sharpest pictures yet of a nucleus while analyzing the gas and dust that surround these rocky, icy building blocks of the solar system. Launch of CONTOUR aboard the Delta II is scheduled for July 1, 2002, from Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — In the Space Assembly and Encapsulation Facility 2 (SAEF-2), the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft (left) is wrapped and ready for the crane at right to carry it to the upper stage of a Boeing Delta II rocket for mating. CONTOUR will provide the first detailed look into the heart of a comet — the nucleus. Flying as close as 60 miles (100 kilometers) to at least two comets, the spacecraft will take the sharpest pictures yet of a nucleus while analyzing the gas and dust that surround these rocky, icy building blocks of the solar system. Launch of CONTOUR aboard the Delta II is scheduled for July 1, 2002, from Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. – Workers get into donning SCAPE suits for the fueling of the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft in the Spacecraft Assembly and Encapsulation Facility 2 (SAEF-2). SCAPE refers to Self-Contained Atmospheric Protective Ensemble. CONTOUR will provide the first detailed look into the heart of a comet — the nucleus. Flying as close as 60 miles (100 kilometers) to at least two comets, the spacecraft will take the sharpest pictures yet of a nucleus while analyzing the gas and dust that surround them. CONTOUR is scheduled for launch aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket July 1, 2002, from Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station