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09-Sep-04 | Genesis plummets to earth

The Genesis mission came to a dismal conclusion yesterday upon its return to Earth.

The spacecraft’s drogue chute and parafoil failed to deploy, and Genesis (launched on Delta 287, 08-Aug-01) slammed into the Utah desert at a speed approaching 200 miles per hour. Scientists had hoped for a neat mid-air capture by helicopter in order to preserve from contamination minute samples of the solar wind which had been collected over the past three years; now they may be lucky to salvage a fraction of the expected data.

One can only hope that Stardust, a comet sample return mission expected to land in Utah via parachute in January 2006, does not suffer a similar fate.

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