For planning purposes,
the Genesis team refers to the final 30 days of flight
— from Aug. 9 to Sept. 8, 2004 — as the
recovery phase of the mission. The location of the landing
footprint for the Genesis capsule will be predicted
by tracking the spacecraft before the capsule's release.
Since the capsule does not have a propulsion system,
there is no way to abort the entry sequence following
Entry Phase of Genesis Capsule
Artist rendering of capsule being released from spacecraft
Mission navigators targeted the capsule to hit a "keyhole" at the top of Earth's atmosphere at an altitude of 125
kilometers (410,000 feet) on September 8 at 9:55 a.m.
Mountain Daylight Time (MDT). This elliptical-shaped
keyhole 33 kilometers (20.5 miles) long and 10 kilometers
(6.2 miles) wide is over the Pacific Ocean. If the capsule
entered the atmosphere anywhere inside this keyhole,
it will come down over the designated spot on the Utah
Test & Training Range.
At about 2 a.m. MDT Sept. 8, the
Genesis team conducted one final teleconference to discuss
the status of the spacecraft's trajectory. After receiving
a "go," they radioed the spacecraft to start
executing a series of commands to release the sample