Launch Thread: ULA to launch NASA’s first mission to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

NASA’s Lucy mission is preparing to launch a daring mission to visit both sets of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. These asteroids lead and follow the gas giant in its orbit, and experts believe they will help answer how planets are formed. Read below for updates on the launch of NASA’s Lucy mission.

Date: Saturday, October 16, 5:34 a.m. EDT

Rocket: United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401

Payload: NASA’s Lucy probe

Launch Pad: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

Landing Site: The Atlas V rocket is not reusable and will be expended into the Atlantic Ocean.

About ULA’s Atlas V rocket

The Atlas rocket has been a workhorse for the United States military and NASA. The Atlas V family tree goes back to the late 1950s as one of the US military’s first ICBMs. However, the military quickly determined liquid-fueled rockets were better suited in the satellite business, and the Atlas launcher was born. NASA and the Department of Defense used the Atlas for project Mercury, Gemini, and some of the most critical scientific and national security missions throughout its history.

What is an Atlas V N22?

The modern version of the Atlas is a two-stage design with up to five solid rocket boosters on the side. It is optimized for national security launches but has several commercial contracts with Boeing and Amazon. This rocket variant is a 401, the most popular and smallest variant of the Atlas V. The first digit designates the fairing size; the mission will use a four (4) meter fairing for Lucy. The second digit stands for the number of solid rocket motors (SRBs) attached to the booster. This number can be between zero and five, and for this mission, we will have none (0). The third and final digit shows how many RL-10 engines are installed on the Centaur upper stage. Like most Atlas V launches, there will only be one; two RL-10s have only been used for Boring Starliner missions.

ULA launch weather

The weather was good for today’s rollout of Lucy’s Atlas V rocket to the launch pad. For launch, the weather is also looking favorable with a high-pressure system sitting right over central Florida. This system will bring few clouds and light winds to the area for the primary launch day. The probability of good launch weather is set at 90% for the early Saturday morning launch.

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