Because of the low production volume of orbiters, the Space Shuttle program decided to build a vehicle as a Structural Test Article, STA-099, that could later be converted to a flight vehicle. The contract for STA-099 was awarded to North American Rockwell on July 26, 1972, and construction was completed in February 1978. After STA-099’s rollout, it was sent to a Lockheed test site in Palmdale, where it spent over 11 months in vibration tests designed to simulate entire shuttle flights, from launch to landing. To prevent damage during structural testing, qualification tests were performed to a safety factor of 1. 2 times the design limit loads. The qualification tests were used to validate computational models, and compliance with the required 1. 4 factor of safety was shown by analysis. STA-099 was essentially a complete airframe of a Space Shuttle orbiter, with only a mockup crew module installed and thermal insulation placed on its forward fuselage.
The existence of such powerful roaring winds kicking up violent and powerful dust storms suggests that the underlying sand can be set in motion, too, and that the giant dunes covering Titan's equatorial regions are still active and continually changing.
Simply put, resistance to the creation of a space frontier originates with the insecurities of Western leaders. First, it is clear that everything changes with the emergence of a frontier. Established power structures are usually shaken, not reinforced. (If this is not clear, try reading Walter Prescott Webb's The Great Frontier, particularly the last chapter, and Divided We Stand: The Crisis of a Frontierless Democracy, by the same author.)
Cassini's successful mission of exploration to the Saturn system is over, but planetary scientists are left with a cornucopia filled with important new information that Cassini/Huygens sent back to Earth before its mission ended. A collaborative NASA/European Space Agency/Italian Space Agency mission, the robotic spacecraft was made up of two components. The first was the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Huygens Probe, that had been named in honor of the Dutch mathematician and astronomer Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), who discovered Titan. The Huygens Probe also closely observed Saturn's lovely system of gossamer rings. The second component, the NASA-designed Cassini Orbiter, was named after the Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Dominico Cassini (1625-1712), who discovered four of Saturn's other intriguing, numerous, and icy moons.