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June 24, 1999

Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO)

Yesterday the MCO spacecraft was successfully commanded into "All-Stellar" mode following the completion of the in-flight checkout and demonstration events during the previous two weeks. After verification that the spacecraft's autopilot was performing properly, the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), housing the orbiter's ring-laser gyroscope assembly, was powered off in order to preserve the unit's operating life for future use during aerobraking and mapping. With this event all of the engineering objectives for the cruise phase of the mission are complete. MCO is now 90 days from Mars Orbit Insertion.

Mars Polar Lander (MPL)

The master command sequence for controlling the MPL spacecraft during the critical Entry/Descent/Landing (EDL) phase was tested in the MPL simulator facility on June 21 & 22. This sequence was developed during the past three weeks from the test sequence used to check out the spacecraft prior to launch, and now includes all of the features (beyond its predecessor's use for system testing) needed for flight use. This was a signicant test that was largely successful, although there were some minor problems identified that are being corrected. The flight team is now busy preparing for its first EDL operational readiness test, to be conducted on June 28-30, which will make use of the updated master sequence to practice all of the activities leading up to landing.

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