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June 17, 1999

Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO)

In-flight checkout of the "all-stellar" attitude determination and control system is now complete! The all-stellar attitude determination software was successfully exercised last Friday (Jun. 11) onboard the spacecraft, with the full flight team monitoring the vehicle's performance on the ground. On Wednesday, Jun. 16, the final step in the checkout process was conducted, in which the orbiter's autopilot was allowed to control the spacecraft using outputs from the all-stellar system. The autopilot's performance equalled or exceeded expectations in all respects.

Mars Polar Lander (MPL)

Last week the flight team successfully completed the "end-to-end" test of the early surface mission through the second Martian day following landing (dubbed "Sol 1") using both the MPL and MCO simulators. The team is now preparing a simulator test of the Entry/Descent/Landing (EDL) master sequence early next week; the master sequence performs all of the tasks needed to configure the spacecraft for entry, finishing with the commands which activite the onboard guidance system that controls the spacecraft from several minutes prior to entry through touchdown.

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