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Australia To Be Vantage Point For Watching Dawn Booster Separation

By | August 29, 2007

      Australia is providing what amounts to front row seats for viewing the booster phase separation after NASA launches the Dawn spacecraft next month.

      This is to become the first spacecraft ever planned to orbit two different bodies after leaving Earth, heading for Vesta and Ceres, two of the largest asteroids in the solar system.

      Four U.S. Air Force personnel will head Down Under to Alice Springs and then move out to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory of Australia, a prime viewing area to watch the separation.

      As part of the same mission a U.S. Air Force NKC-135 aircraft will fly from Perth International Airport and head over north-west Australia.

      The launch from Florida is planned between Sept. 19 and Oct. 15, depending on weather and atmospheric conditions.

      The Australian Department of Defence will provide local liaison support and assist NASA while the team is in Australia supporting the Dawn spacecraft launch.

      The Dawn mission will attempt to answer questions about the formation of the solar system.

      Over the last decade Defence has supported five similar NASA missions as part of Australia’s ongoing cooperation with NASA.

      “I believe this is a very valuable scientific mission and I am proud to be able to offer Australian support to NASA to conduct the launch of this spacecraft,” said Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, who is a member of Parliament.

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