NASA and United Launch Alliance launched the Lucy spacecraft in an early morning liftoff beginning its journey the Trojan asteroids.
At 5:34 a.m. EDT, a ULA Atlas V 401 rocket lifted off from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. NASA’s Lucy spacecraft, a first of its kind mission, is headed to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.
The launch went off without a hitch, with the Atlas V performing as expected, and the weather stayed perfect. ULA took just under an hour to get the Lucy spacecraft on its proper trajectory and separate for the Centaur upper stage.
Lucy now begins its six-year journey to Jupiter’s Trojans asteroids, which scientists believe to contain secrets about the creation of our solar system. On its way, it will encounter a main-belt asteroid, which will allow the mission controllers to gather more science on these ancient celestial objects. Finally, it will meet seven Trojan asteroids from both the leading and trailing packs. These flybys will be the first time a spacecraft has visited these objects and unlock unknown discoveries about how the solar system was created.
Lucy lifts off from SLC-41 lighting up the Florida night sky. Photos: Daryl Sausse’, Jared Locke, Derek Wise
The launch of Lucy marks the 146th mission for ULA and it’s 18th beyond Earth’s orbit. As expected, the reliability and accuracy of ULA will allow Lucy to reach its mission objectives, hopefully with enough fuel left over to extends its unique mission.
Featured Image: Jared Locke / Space Explored
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