NASA, ULA Launch Lucy Mission to ‘Fossils’ of Planet Formation


A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft aboard is seen in this 2 minute and 30 second exposure photograph as it launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids. Like the mission’s namesake the fossilized human ancestor, “Lucy,” whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity’s evolution Lucy will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system.
Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASAs Lucy mission, the agencys first to Jupiters Trojan asteroids, launched at 5:34 a.m. EDT Saturday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Over the next 12 years, Lucy will fly by one main-belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids, making it the agencys first single spacecraft mission in history to explore so many different asteroids. Lucy will investigate these fossils of planetary formation up close during its journey.

Lucy embodies NASAs enduring quest to push out into the cosmos for the sake of exploration and science, to better understand the universe and our place within it, said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. I cant wait to see what mysteries the mission uncovers!

About an hour after launch, Lucy separated from the second stage of the ULA Atlas V 401 rocket. Its two massive solar arrays, each nearly 24 feet (7.3 meters) wide, successfully unfurled about 30 minutes later and began charging the spacecrafts batteries to power its subsystems.

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