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Cassini tests engine
Posted: Sat, May 29, 2004, 8:29 AM ET (1229 GMT)
Cassini and Huygens at Titan (NASA) NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully tested Thursday the rocket engine it will use to enter orbit around the planet Saturn in just over a month. For the first time in five years, Cassini fired its 445-newton main engine, performing a six-minute burn to successfully complete a trajectory correction maneuver. The maneuver puts Cassini on course to fly by Phoebe, Saturn's outermost moon, on June 11, as the spacecraft approaches Saturn. The maneuver was seen as a critical test of the engine, which must perform a 96-minute burn on June 30 to insert Cassini into orbit around Saturn. Once in orbit, Cassini will spend the next several years studying the planet, its rings, and its numerous moons. In late December Cassini will release the ESA-built Huygens probe that will enter Titan's atmosphere in January 2005.
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