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May 31, 2004


Steve Mitchell

I worked at JPL when they were doing the final assembly test of Cassini. In fact I worked in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility (SAF). I didn't work on Cassini itself, just a couple of software projects distantly related to support of testing. This was about the same time they were assembling Mars Pathfinder (MPF), BTW, which happened in the other cleanroom facility into which we had a window from our office. MPF came into the cleanroom, was assembled, tested, launched, and completed it's mission all the while Cassini was still in production. Kind of a Agile lesson there..

Anyway, Cassini is the last of the big N-billion $ missions. The problem with this old style mission tended to be that the platform kept expanding as everybody and his dog added their own mission requirements. They were kitchen sink type projects born from a mindset of huge budgets.

That being said, I saw a recent picture that Cassini took approaching Saturn from many millions of miles away and it was stunning. The late 80's technology and the dedicated mission will produce some images that will be really extraordinary compared to the late 60's technology of the previous Voyager flyby's.

Should be a great show.

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