Douglas Isbell Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1753) Franklin O'Donnell Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA (Phone

: 818/354-5011) RELEASE: 95-122

July 24, 1995

GALILEO ENGINE FIRING SCHEDULED; PRESS BRIEFING TO FOLLOW NASA's Galileo spacecraft, now homing in on Jupiter, is scheduled to fire its main rocket engine early Thursday, July 27, in a critical maneuver that will put it on course for entry into orbit around the giant planet later this year. The engine firing for the so-called "orbiter deflection maneuver" will begin at 3:38 a.m. EDT and last five minutes, six seconds. (This is the time when Galileo's radio signal reporting the event is received on Earth. The signal travels at the speed of light, and one-way light time from Galileo to Earth will be about 38 minutes on the day of the maneuver.) A press briefing originating from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA, to discuss the Galileo orbiter deflection maneuver, the recent release of Galileo's Jupiter atmospheric probe, and the major scientific goals of the mission, will be carried live on NASA Television at 1 p.m. EDT on July 27. A two-second firing, or "wake-up burn" of the main rocket engine was successfully completed early this morning. The short burn allowed flight controllers to check out the overall health of the propulsion system in preparation for the longer engine burn on Thursday. The upcoming rocket firing follows the successful targeting and release of Galileo's Jupiter atmospheric probe on July 13. The atmospheric probe, with no propulsion or guidance system of its own, will continue to freefall toward Jupiter and will enter the planet's atmosphere on December 7. As planned, Galileo is currently on a course that without further action would send the spacecraft along the same Jupiter-impact trajectory that the atmospheric -more-2probe is flying. This week's engine firing, however, will deflect the spacecraft off that trajectory and put it on course for its close flyby of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io, which also occurs on December 7.

"With the completion of this maneuver, we're looking forward to the culmination of three weeks of intensive work in targeting the spacecraft for the beginning of its tour of Jupiter," said Galileo Project Manager William O'Neil of JPL. "Everything is going perfectly." The main engine could not be tested or fired prior to release of the atmospheric probe because the probe was mounted in front of the engine nozzle. Thursday's firing also serves as a demonstration of engine operability for an even larger firing of the same engine during a December 7 maneuver that will brake the spacecraft and allow it to be captured into Jupiter orbit. That engine firing, called Jupiter orbit insertion, will be the largest such maneuver of the Galileo mission. The orbiter deflection maneuver will provide a change in the spacecraft's velocity of about 140 miles per hour. By comparison, the Jupiter orbit entry maneuver will expend 831 pounds of propellant and result in a velocity change of 1,438 miles per hour. Galileo was launched in October 1989 aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL. Galileo's Jupiter atmospheric probe is managed by NASA's Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA. The Galileo spacecraft was built and the overall mission is managed by NASA's JPL. - end NOTE TO EDITORS: A new NASA fact sheet is available to news media by calling the NASA Headquarters Newsroom at 202/3581600. "Galileo's New Telecommunications Strategy," explains the software and hardware changes that are being implemented to enable Galileo to achieve at least 70 percent of its original science objectives while using only its low-gain antenna.