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NASA’s Lucy mission prepares for launch on Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid

NASA’s Lucy Mission United Launch Alliance (ULA) Centaur Stage will be craned to a vertically integrated facility near Space Ranch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Thursday, September 16, 2021. The Lucy spacecraft will be launched by the ULA Atlas V401 rocket from Pad 41 by Saturday, October 16. NASA’s launch service program, based at the Kennedy Space Center, manages the launch. Lucy’s main mission for 12 years is to explore one asteroid on the main belt of the solar system and a record number of asteroids flying on seven trojan asteroids. In addition, Lucy’s path returns to Earth three times for gravity assistance, making it the first spacecraft to return closer to Earth from the outer solar system. Credits: NASA / Kim Shiflett

NASA is testing the capabilities of Lucy, the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid, filling it with fuel and preparing to encapsulate it for launch on Saturday, October 16.


Named after characters in Greek mythology, these asteroids orbit the Sun in two herds, one in front of Jupiter and the other behind Jupiter. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to visit these asteroids. Scientists hope to study these asteroids up close to refine the theory of how the planets of the solar system were formed 4.5 billion years ago and why they are now composed. is.

Tom Statler, Lucy Project Scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said: “When we explore the distant past of our solar system, this is a great opportunity for discovery.”

Following all pandemic protocols, Lucy team members have been preparing to fly a spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the past eight weeks. Engineers tested the spacecraft’s mechanical, electrical, and thermal systems and practiced launch sequences from mission operations centers in Kennedy and Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colorado. In early August, engineers installed a spacecraft high-gain antenna. This is the second most noticeable feature after the vast antenna. Solar array, This will allow the spacecraft to communicate with the Earth.

Donya Douglas Bloodshaw, Lucy Project Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said: “This summer has passed so quickly. I can’t believe it’s about to go on sale.”

On September 18, propulsion engineers completed filling Lucy’s fuel tank with approximately 1,600 pounds (725 kilograms) of liquid hydrazine and liquid oxygen, which make up 40% of the spacecraft’s mass.Fuel is used for precise operation to propel Lucy to that fuel asteroid Upon arriving at your destination on time, solar arrays (each school bus width) will recharge the batteries that power the spacecraft’s instruments.

The Lucy spacecraft will soon be packed into two halves of the rocket fairing and close around it like a clamshell. After the spacecraft is encapsulated, the Lucy team will be able to electrically communicate with the spacecraft via the “umbilical cord.”

“Launching a spaceship is like sending a child to college. Whatever they can do to prepare themselves for the next big step,” said Hallevison, a principal researcher at Lucy Mission. I did. ” Southwest Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

In early October, the encapsulated spacecraft will be transported to the Vehicle Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, where it will be “mated” with the United Launch Alliance Atlas V401 rocket. Atlas V will take off from Space Ranch Complex 41. The rocket takes Lucy out of Earth’s atmosphere and embarks on a long journey to Troy’s Jupiter asteroid.

A few days before the launch, engineers power on the Lucy spacecraft in preparation for the mission. This process takes about 20 minutes.

Jessica Runesbury, Goddard’s Lucy Project Systems Engineer, said: “And that’s the release date.”

Lucy’s first launch attempt is scheduled for October 16th at 5:34 am EDT. That day, the team will be “called to the station” at 1 am. This will be monitored by everyone arriving at mission control and other stations. Perform a full launch countdown procedure with the spacecraft. If weather or other issues prohibit the launch for the day, the team will have the opportunity to launch more from the next day.

The Southwest Institute in Boulder, Colorado is home to the Principal Investigators of Lucy Mission. Goddard provides overall mission management, system engineering, and safety and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado built the spacecraft. Lucy is NASA’s 13th mission in the Discovery Program. NASA’s NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama manages the Discovery Program of the institution’s Science Missions Department in Washington. The launch is managed by NASA’s launch service program, which is based in Kennedy.


NASA launches launch preparations for first mission to Troy’s Jupiter asteroid


For more information:
For more information on NASA’s Lucy Mission, please visit: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/lucy/overview/index

Quote: NASA’s Lucy Mission is Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroid (2021) acquired from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-nasa-lucy-mission-jupiter-trojan.html on September 28, 2021. Preparing for launch to (September 28)

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NASA’s Lucy mission prepares for launch on Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid

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